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The Write Question is a weekly video podcast all about writing. Today’s question? How can you make your content unique? If you have a question you’d like me to answer you can email me, tweet me @pubcoach, or leave a message for me at the Skype account, The Write Question.
How can you make your content unique? That’s the topic I’m addressing today in The Write Question. I’m Daphne Gray-Grant, the Publication Coach, still in pandemic mode.
I have a question from Nikita Ranadive, a writer based in Pune, India. Here’s what they’ve asked by email….
“While working on a topic that others have already blogged about, how can I make my article unique with nearly the same content? By the way, when I ask this question, I’m referring to technical writing.”
Thanks for your email, Nikita. The PS to your question —that you’re referring to technical writing — makes it much tougher for me to come up with a good answer.
If you were blogging about other much-written-about subjects — say cooking or sports or tv or music — I’d be able to tell you that the secret is to get personal. We all have our own unique life experiences and we can write about just about anything from that lens.
Because our experiences are unique, our writing therefore will be unique as well. I use this strategy all the time in my own blogging about writing. For example, I’ve written frequently about my kids, our holidays and my own reading habits.
But you usually can’t do that with what you’re talking about. For anyone unfamiliar with the term “technical writing” let me say that it encompasses a lot more than software user manuals.
It includes the following areas: high-tech manufacturing, engineering, biotech, energy, aerospace, finance, and global supply chain. And the format is varied as well. It may be reports, executive summary statements, briefs, blog posts. Any time technical information is conveyed in writing at work, it is, by definition, technical writing.
In other words, it is not the type of writing where it would usually be appropriate to include personal stories.
I guess the first question I’d want to ask is: why is it a requirement for you to be unique? Isn’t it more important to be clear and understandable? This, after all, is the major goal of technical writing. You need to take some highly complex information — that few people understand — and make it more accessible to more people.
The next question I have is: why have so many others blogged about your subject? This doesn’t really sound like technical writing to me.
I’m wondering if perhaps you work at a content factory trying to rewrite material that already exists on the internet?
If that’s your situation, I really feel for you because it sounds like a truly boring job. To make the best of a bad situation, try to focus on more specifics. For example, if you were asked to blog about the use of technology in fighting cancer you might change your focus and look specifically at, say, thyroid cancer or bone cancer.
You should also consider whether there’s any way you can solve problems for readers. If the topic is already generating interest on the internet, your ability to present useful solutions is likely to give you a jump in traffic.
And, if you’re worried about copyright infringement or plagiarism, I strongly suggest NOT having source documents open on your desk while you’re writing.
Instead, review your data, then put source materials aside and try to write off the top of your head. You will get a much better, more original result this way.
Finally, let me wrap up with a quote from the American anthropologist Margaret Mead. “Always remember that you are unique. Just like everyone else.”
Nikita, it’s impossible to be original or unique while you are copying someone else. Instead of focusing on what others are doing, set your own goals, and try to serve readers in your own way.
If you’d like to learn more about how to make writing a happier and more rewarding process, check out my latest book Your Happy First Draft. I don’t sell it in bookstores or via Amazon. The only place to buy it is on my website, link on the screen below and in the show notes.