This is a guest post by Paula Hicks. Paula is an experienced journalist from Romania. She currently lives in the US and works as a freelance editor for a number of educational resources. Her big dream is to open a publishing house in Europe. Connect with her on Twitter.
Does Every Writer Have a Specific Trait that Differs Them from the Rest?
Whenever you’re trying to find tips on how to be a better writer, you hear this one: be unique!
It sounds logical. If, for example, you’re trying to reduce the bounce rate on your blog, producing unique content may be a solution. You have to be different from all other bloggers, so the audience will recognize your style and will want more of it.
The Problem with Uniqueness
“Stay unique” is an important advice for a novelist or a blogger. When you’re a freelance writer or a journalist, however, things are different. In this case, you’re working for clients. They are the ones who give instructions that you have to follow. Of course, they are flexible. Still, most of the time they will want your content to align with the framework of their project.
So you get a topic and you do your best to write the most unique article on it, then you get this feedback: “It’s not what I was looking for. I was thinking of something like this.” That message will be accompanied by a link to a competitive website. The client has been analyzing the competition and they already know what the target audience wants. They want to deliver something similar; not something unique.
Needless to say, they will warn you to keep the content plagiarism-free. Their idea of uniqueness, however, is much different from a writer’s perception of the term. These clients often need writers to repurpose or rewrite articles, so they basically paraphrase the work of others.
Being “too unique” may not be a good thing for a freelance writer.
But creativity can also be a problem for novelists and bloggers, too. Why? Because too much of it can lead to reduced productivity.
Uniqueness vs. Productivity
Whether you like it or not, writing is a business for you. Maybe that doesn’t sound nice, but if you want to devote your life to writing, then you’d better start making money from it. Lionel Marossa, a writer for EssayWritingLand, knows that: “Every writer is part of an industry today,” he says. “Uniqueness is certainly appreciated since there’s a lot of competition out there. Productivity, however, is mandatory when you start making money. Sometimes it’s really hard to find the balance between these two extremes – creativity and productivity.”
Wait; creativity and productivity are extremes? Exactly!
Creativity needs space for growth and development. You can never force it. Sometimes you wake up in the middle of the night with great ideas. But the creative muse is not always awake. Sometimes she’s lethargic. You try to push yourself through the tasks, but you have absolutely no idea how to make it good.
If you work only when the creative force hits you, you may come up with something exceptional. Will that help you become a good writer? Yes. Will it be good for your business? No. Finishing projects occasionally means making money occasionally. It means you’ll have to get a “real” job that will exhaust you, so you’ll have less time and less will to write.
If you want this to be your profession, then you’d better start looking for ways on how to get more productive. Productivity means structure. It’s a habit that arises from a regular working schedule. That’s completely opposite from the creative chaos many authors are used to. That’s why you have to search for the balance. You need to become more productive without losing your unique voice as a writer.
Solutions: How to Preserve Your Specific Traits While Becoming More Productive
Now, onto an actual answer: does every writer need a specific trait to differentiate them from the mass?
If we’re talking about ghostwriters and freelance writers, then they should focus on productivity. A unique voice is not a major factor of interest for their clients.
But if the writer wants to be successful and build a personal brand around their name, then yes; they absolutely need a specific trait. They also want to be more productive, so it’s a tricky situation.
How can you get more productive without sacrificing your uniqueness?
1. Embrace Your Limitations
Believe it or not, some constraints will force you to think. When you have an actual schedule, you’re not only aimed towards greater productivity. You’re also tricking your mind to get into creative mode exactly when you need it to. This won’t work for everyone, but the least you could do is try.
When you have precise tasks and goals to meet, you start seeing your work differently. Without some structure, your creativity is unleashed even though you don’t know what will come out of it and when you’ll see the results. That’s why you need to challenge yourself.
So start using your Google Calendar or print out a monthly planner. The time limitations won’t necessarily limit your uniqueness; they will just give it a reasonable framework.
2. Deprive Yourself of Some Comfort
This will seem strange. It is strange, but it works for many writers. In a research study from 2015, researchers found that resource scarcity had an immense effect on product use creativity. When you face scarcity, you’re forced to think in a creative way, so you’ll come up with different solutions.
So maybe you don’t need a fancy computer, the latest software, and that Namiki pen you want so much. Maybe you don’t have to spend a night drinking expensive wine and eating weird food in a classy restaurant.
Highly creative individuals are comfortable living with less. The material obstacles broaden their perception and let them see life from a different perspective. If you put some constraints on the way you spend money, maybe you’ll unleash a new dimension of your thinking processes.
3. Carry a Notebook Wherever You Go
How do you recognize a writer? By the notebook in their hands! Maybe you prefer an iPad, and that’s okay. As long as you have something to capture your thoughts at any moment, you’re good. Take that notebook or tablet wherever you go. When you go to sleep, put it on the nightstand. You want easy access to it when creativity hits you.
Even if you work under a schedule, the creative forces may awaken when you least expect them. No matter how insignificant an idea seems or how convinced you are that you won’t forget about it, note it down!
Use that notebook to capture ideas, doodle, or simply write down snippets of conversations the people in the subway had. You never know when your next big idea will hit you, so you need a tool that lets you be productive right away.
Do you write to create something amazing or do you write to get it done? Most writers want both! They try hard to write amazing unique content, and they want to get it done by a specific deadline. That means they have to find the balance between creativity and productivity without sacrificing their unique voice. Hopefully, the tips above will help you hit the right spot!