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072 Six Ways to Becoming a Completely Original Writer
14th July 2015 • Rough Draft • Rainmaker.FM
00:00:00 00:10:05

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Let s admit it: in a world where blogs and blog posts proliferate, it s hard to be original. But it s not impossible …

… as long as you’re willing to do a little work.

So the question is, what can you as a web writer or blogger do to write a post that stands out? That s original? And will be shared broadly?

Here are six techniques to copy.

In this 10-minute episode you’ll discover:

  • How to identify that never-before explored topic or specific angle on a subject
  • Never do this with a topic (or your analysis could be flat-out wrong)
  • The tactic you need a ton of courage to tackle (but can lead to original material)
  • The beautiful thing that happens when you expand your mind into some strange dimensions
  • The creative mindset that will make you weep (and how to avoid it)
  • Famous novelist Neil Gaiman’s single most important question he asks for original ideas

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The Transcript

6 Ways to Becoming a Completely Original Writer

Voiceover: This is Rainmaker.FM, the digital marketing podcast network. It’s built on the Rainmaker Platform, which empowers you to build your own digital marketing and sales platform. Start your free 14-day trial at Rainmaker.FM/Platform.

Demian Farnworth: Hello gang, you re listening to Rough Draft, your daily dose of essential web writing advice. I am Demian Farnworth, your host, your muse, your digital recluse, and the Chief Content Writer for Copyblogger Media.

And thank you for sharing the next few minutes of your life with me.

Let s play a little game. I m going to describe someone. You tell me who I m talking about. Your only hint: she s a woman.

She muscles around in otherworldly cat outfits and 36-inch heels. Bleaches her hair, bobs her cut and wore an early 20th Century bathing suit when she appeared on American Idol.

She sports beauty marks the size of tea saucers. Writes staggeringly good songs about social outcasts. And nurtures millions of “little monsters” to great effect.

No surprise she was one of the most powerful celebrities according to Forbes.

Of course you know I m talking about Lady Gaga. Some would say she s an original. But that s not entirely true. She s actually living on borrowed material.

Elton John. Ziggy Stardust. Madonna.

Yet there is something she taps into that is all her own. Just look at the tens of millions of her “little monsters” she nurtures. Copies of Lady Gaga.

But what does this have to do with writing for the web? Writing in general?


Lady Gaga figured out what people want something that hasn t changed by studying how others satisfied that need in the past.

And then places her personal seal on their techniques.

In the same manner, when you write a blog post one of the things you have to do is study the techniques of past writing greats. But there s more to it than that.

How to Identify that Never-Before Explored Topic or Specific Angle on a Subject

Let s admit it: in a world where blogs and blog posts proliferate, it s hard to be original. But it s not impossible. As long as you are willing to do a little work.

So the question is, what can you as a web writer or blogger do to write a post that stands out? That s original? And will be shared broadly?

Here are six techniques to copy.

1. In-Depth Research

When is the last time you drilled a topic so deep that you uncovered something that no one else has? Probably college, maybe high school? Even then, did you go far enough?

If it s not original, then you probably didn t.

But research alone won t do the trick. You have to follow the advice of Hungarian physicist Albert Szent-Gyorgyi who said: “Research is to see what everybody else has seen, and to think what NOBODY else has thought.”

Your job is to identify that topic or specific angle on a subject never-before explored and expose it.

That s originality.

Think journalists who win Pulitzer Prizes and their stories for great examples of in-depth research.

2. Insightful Analysis

Original ideas for posts will occur when you take a topic let s say the election and breakdown the nuances of the race.

What s important, however, is that you MUST be an expert in that subject matter. If you re not, your analysis will be just analytical. But not insightful.

And it may even be naive and flat-out wrong.

If you are going to do analysis, make sure you are an authority.

3. Probing Commentary

One of my favourite examples of probing commentary is from Anthony Burgess book The Clockwork Orange. This nightmare vision of the future questions the meaning of freedom, good and evil, violence and redemption.

It s unrelenting in its questioning of behaviour, policies and practices.

And that s the key to original posts and solid commentary: questioning everything, whether good or bad, without regard for who you may be offending.

4. Bastard Ideas

This one needs a little explaining.

When I use the word “bastard” I m referring to the notion of unknown origins. In other words, ideas that seem to come from left-field.

These are the ideas that prompt us to say, “What would possess them to do that?”

Think Lady Gaga s 36 inch heels. Or Hugh MacLeod s “social objects.” Or George Lucas and his original “Star Wars.” Or Seth Godin and The Red Fez.

While these ideas may seem bizarre and unnatural, the truth is, they re not. Each idea is rooted in an ancestor idea. Likely multiple ancestors.

The lesson for you: expand your mind into some strange dimensions. And brazenly borrow.

5. Brazenly Borrow

Of course there is no such thing as an original idea. All original ideas are pretty much borrowed ideas from the past, whether it s 10 years ago or 10,000.

You will kill yourself if you don t embrace this fact because the moment you stumble on the original idea to end all original ideas and then discover a similar idea from the past, you will weep

And stare at the white, blank screen.

Instead, you will have an easier time coming up with original ideas if you seek and pillage the best ideas out there like Leo Babauta s.

Indulge in different sources and mediums. Watch movies. Read comics. Talk to a psychologist. Read lists of ways to become a better writer.

If you do, you will never have a shortage of material.

And if for some crazy reason you one day do, start asking questions.

6. Unusual Questions

What makes a truly original writer and a truly original story, blog post or article? It s a habit of asking unusual questions.

How do you find those unusual questions to ask in the first place? Here s what Neil Gaiman recommends:

You get ideas when you ask yourself simple questions. They most important of the questions is just, What if ? (What if you woke up with wings? What if your sister turned into a mouse? What if you all found out that your teacher was planning to eat one of you at the end of term but you didn t know who?)

It s when you ask those strange questions that your original idea begins to emerge. And when it does write your self silly.

A Final Thought

Listen, as a final thought, don t worry if someone else steals your idea. In fact, that s what you want. You want duplication. You want multiplication of your work. Your stamp.

David Olgily says, “If you ever have the good fortune to create a great advertising campaign, you will soon see another agency steal it. This is irritating, but don t let it worry you; nobody has ever built a brand by imitating somebody else s advertising.”

In the end, your problem my problem our problem is not truly originality. It s obscurity. So if someone else imitating our work promotes it so be it.

By the way, what about you? What ideas do you have for coming up with original posts? Let me know on Twitter or in the comments.

And until next time, take care.





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