When I read Beowulf in college, I couldn’t get one thing off of my mind.
I marched to my professor’s office looking for a specific answer to my very pressing question. Thankfully, he was there.
“Did J.R.R. Tolkein copy Beowulf?”
My professor grinned. “There are a lot of similarities, huh?” he asked, aware of where I was going. “Seems like he did have a lot of influence from it.” He smirked.
How could that be? How could the J.R.R. Tolkein create what’s been considered a masterpiece for so long, but all this time it was ripped from a classic like Beowulf? Being a huge The Lord of the Rings fan, I felt betrayed.
Until I really, really thought about it.
Nothing is really original, isn’t it? It’s all been said before.
Some say J.K. Rowling ripped Harry Potter from The Lord of the Rings.
Some say The Lion King is similar to Hamlet.
What about West Side Story vs Romeo and Juliet?
So how does anyone create anything meaningful?
This seems to be the hot question among some content marketers and business owners (*wink* freelance writers *wink*). There seems to be some common concerns:
- If everything’s been said before, how are you supposed to say anything that people care about?
- You’re told that having a social presence is important to grow your own brand, but maybe you feel like you have nothing unique to say, so it feels like it’s not worth it.
- You’re trying to create content for a client, but the whole industry is saying the same things you want to create for them.
Well, why did Harry Potter captivate audiences? Why was The Lion King such a hit? Why is The Hobbit so loved? How did West Side Story become so widely known? And all in a good way?
Even though they may have been inspired by stories that had already been told, they told their story a different way. They applied new characters, new names, new settings, new songs to their stories.
They made it their own.
So when you want to say something, say it your way. Add a personal story (see my intro) or introduce relatable or familiar elements (like the pieces of work I used to further support my point in my intro).
Every time someone may read the same concept but with a different spin or different perspective, it may make more sense or encourage your reader to think about the concept in a different way.
How Robin Writers does it
I’ve used this strategy a lot with this blog—I don’t just plainly state the message I’m trying to convey. I use personal stories or relatable elements to demonstrate my point. Like these posts:
What Trader Joe’s can teach us about great copywriting: I could have just listed what makes great copywriting, but I related it back to a familiar brand to demonstrate my point.
What we can learn from Olympic athletes as writers: I could have stated simply that you should have a “why” to your writing, but I wanted to tie in an exciting event to round out my point.
Writing engaging online content and why nobody cared 13 years ago: I shared some pretty embarrassing Facebook posts from my high school days to demonstrate an example of what NOT to do when publishing social media content.
The chronicles of writing a novel in one year: I heavily used my experience writing my first novel to share some important lessons I learned about writing.
I know “everything’s been said before, but this is how you stand out” has been said before. But hopefully this time you see how I said it my way—and hopefully it gave you a different perspective of the concept!
Document your experiences. Pull from lessons you learned and share the story around it. Take a lesson you learned and relate it to something familiar for your audience to make more sense of it. Creating content doesn’t have to be complicated or intimidating just because other people have already said what you want to say—they haven’t said it your way.
Up for the challenge?
Now go write 🙂
What do you do with all of this original content that you create for social media? You can build a portfolio with it! There are also many other types of writing you can create to give your portfolio a good boost, and my free guide walks you through it all.
No matter if you have years of experience or are just starting out, there are always ways to make a portfolio you’re proud of.
Access the guide for all the details!