I was SO bummed when I read that Jonah Lehrer was caught for two separate offenses: plagiarizing, and citing a false Bob Dylan quote in his new book, Imagine. I’m a huge fan of Lehrer and listen to him often on radio shows such as RadioLab.
To make things a little more embarrassing, when he plagiarized he didn’t copy someone else’s article, book, or blog; he plagiarized his own writing. He recycled stories he had written earlier and presented them as new.
Unfortunately, many web content writers and bloggers recycle material, whether it be their own or from another source. I’ve had a handful of clients whose web designers literally copied content from their competitor’s website and hoped they wouldn’t notice. It’s a shame, since I believe there is an endless well of original content within each one of us (even those who don’t consider themselves writers), along with a unique perspective and point of view that is fresh and compelling.
I write tons of content for one of my long-term clients, Printable Memories. I often write on the same subjects and themes. So how do I keep it fresh and ensure that all the content is 100% original? I don’t re-read any of my content; I feel if I do, I’ll subconsciously include some of the material in my next piece. Once I write something, I proofread it a few times, send it off, and save it to an archive folder. To clear my mind, I practice guitar or take a walk between projects.
In this day and age, quantity seems to be valued over quality – in most things, including writing. But more is not better, and there may come a day when a blog article or web page will be more than just a soundbite or cry for attention; it will be a an inspiration, a call to action, a window into another world.