How to Write About Old News and Be Original

I’ve suffered yet another round of disgust with my feed reader. Something new and shiny becomes the latest thing, and suddenly a flurry of “same old’ posts flutter about on the blogosphere like so many ripples in a dead lake going nowhere.

Been there. Done that.

Recently, my feed reader looked like a broken record. No less than 12 posts on how to increase comments sat there waiting for my attention – in the same day. Even the titles and headlines looked the same.

I marked everything as “read” and moved on, saving myself half an hour of boredom.

Then I ranted on Twitter. I complained about people rehashing what’s been said. I pushed for more originality. I grumbled that we should strive to be different, to be interesting. I muttered that we shouldn’t be writing on what’s already been written.

It was a good question. People wondered about the newcomers to the Internet. Should they not be educated? Others mentioned that nothing is really ever new; can we truly make old news original? And what about blogger experience? If it’s new to the blogger, shouldn’t the blogger discuss it?

Yes, yes and yes. But there are ways to avoid sounding like a skipping record stuck in the moment. Here’s my take on how to make old news sound fresh:

Wait until the buzz dies down. I never post on what others are currently discussing. I sit and wait until people have almost forgotten about the topic, and then I write. Whatever I discuss comes off as news rather than old news.

Write about your perspective. One of the biggest reasons our posts do well is because they contain personal opinion. They discuss the effects of a topic on our lives. No one can replicate your thoughts and feelings. You’re unique. So be unique.

Discuss the opposing view. Every coin has two sides, and every mirror has two faces. If people are all posting about the good in something, write about the bad. If people are talking about a new “how to”, write about what not to do. Be the devil’s advocate – it’s refreshing.

Examine all angles. Rather than discuss a matter from one side, delve into the pros and cons or the dos and don’ts. Turn the subject around and see if there’s a facet that people haven’t mentioned yet. This gives people a more informed perspective, too, and shows that you’ve taken the time to learn more before writing.

Search before you write. It’s difficult to know what’s already been said – the blogosphere is a big place, and tons of people may have written about the topic. So Google your idea before you write. See how many results come back. Pages of returns? Find something different to write. Just a few returns and not much information? Go ahead. Discuss.

Don’t be sheep in a pasture. Following the herd and writing what everyone else is writing makes you look rather uncreative. Instead of being sheep, be the shepherd. Lead readers down a different path than the one they’re already following.

Point to other resources. While it’s great to keep the newcomers in mind and write about the basics, it’s a better idea to point readers to well-written resources and in-depth posts that already give the information. Don’t rehash what others have already discussed.

Be daring and disagree. There’s nothing wrong with calling something like you see it. If you find everyone agreeing with some A-lister’s just-released opinion and you’re not 100% convinced it’s good advice, discuss your feelings or thoughts. Encourage people to do more than just nod and smile.

Stay away from the latest fads. If it’s new and shiny, you can bet everyone’s discussing it. If it’s just released, you can be sure it’s the talk of the town. So wait. Don’t post. Read what others have to say first. Give the fad a week or two and post your personal review instead.

You don’t always have to come up with earth-shattering revelations. You don’t need to be the person leading the world. But if you’re simply going over what’s already been done, you aren’t adding value to your own blog or giving value to your readers.

So be different. Find a way to present old material in a new way. Think about how you can present a more original angle. Don’t leap on the latest, and don’t crow about something until you’ve truly thought the matter over.

Slow down. Think before you write – and don’t repeat what everyone has already said.

Post by James Chartrand

James Chartrand is an expert copywriter and the owner of Men with Pens and Damn Fine Words, the game-changing writing course for business owners. She loves the color blue, her kids, Nike sneakers and ice skating.

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  1. I totally understand how you feel, I recently added about 50 rss feeds from different blogs, and it seems like 30% of them are just rehashing the same things, and not doing a very good job at it :)

    As always, I love your posts!

  2. The most important thing you said up above is what everyone should strive to do:

    “Write about your perspective. One of the biggest reasons our posts do well is because they contain personal opinion. They discuss the effects of a topic on our lives. No one can replicate your thoughts and feelings. You’re unique. So be unique.”

    I like to read what you & Harry write not only because it is interesting, but because it is “what James & Harry think about the topic”.

    See, you guys are my friends. So I want to know what my friends really think about stuff. If my friends only talked about stuff other people had said and didn’t tell me what they *really* thought about it… BORING!

    So yes, you can write about old news. Just make it your own. Tell us what you really think about it. Not just what someone else told you to think.

    Brett Legree’s last blog post..the hero everyone said they knew.

  3. Jesse Hines says:

    I know this is only the comments section, but given the nature of the post, I should probably strive to offer some original, thought-provoking comment on this post but–I just got up to begin my day and haven’t the brainpower/energy at the moment.

    So, I will simply say–great post. That isn’t original, but I’m only motivated to comment on posts that really strike a chord with me, and this one did, immediately.

    Striving to be original and posting things of real value without regurgitating what others have already done ad infinitum–James, you and Harry harp on this eternally and I’m with you. This perspective is one that haunts me, in a good way, hint hint.

    Now, I’ll try to wake up and get some energy and do (or write) something original.

  4. Agreed! Be yourself, be unique, add your own voice and perspective, your emotions, your personal experiences and then you’ll guarantee a difference in what you write.

    Jenny Burr’s last blog post..It is Well

  5. The sushi niche, and especially the creative sushi recipe niche is so incredibly small, I don’t think I have much to worry about here. However, I do plan on launching a more general food blog soon (whenever I can get the bf to help me finish the design!), and the food blogging community has a much higher potential for problems like this.

    For example, big food blogging events like Daring Bakers and Tuesdays With Dorie. There are times when every single food blog in my reader has a post about the exact same french bread or clafoutis recipe, but somehow they are still all interesting to read. I think because all of the really good food bloggers are also great storytellers, so near everyone has a personal anecdote that they can attach to the recipe.

    Unfortunately I’m not yet in the group of great storytellers (I can’t make a story interesting to save my life!), but I’m working on it. Many of the posts you guys write here on MWP help, and I think if I get to participate in that RPG thing you were talking about yesterday they will help my writing improve immensely. I think it’s just because I’ve been so introverted all my life… the rest of my family doesn’t seem to have the same problem!!

    And on that note, I’m off to bed. Goodnight all!

    Allison’s last blog post..Tuna Nigiri

  6. James,

    I love “wait until the buzz dies down.” So true, and then you’ve got a much better chance of catching someone who does need the info, rather than someone who’s heard it a million times in a week or two. I write my posts in bursts of five to twenty, a couple of times a week, then put them away and before posting, just look through for something that speaks to me that day. (Ahem. Last night I worked for hours on one, then decided it didn’t speak to me. No post. *sigh*) That way I catch the feeling when it’s hot, but I don’t put the post out when it might seem obviously derivative.

    I don’t do a lot of posts that are directly inspired by someone else’s writing, though. I try to do posts that are mainly inspired by the work I do (working on Customer Experience) or things that happen to me (we’re all customers, all day long).

    I think of the other blogs I read as footnotes for my own articles (backing up a point) rather than as places to get my ideas. I’m an old thesis-writer, so that kinda comes naturally.

    Two other good ways to keep your posts from being rehashings of everyone else’s:

    Don’t read too many. This also prevents “blog fatigue”;

    Grab paper and pen, and write someplace far from your computer. The park. A café. The library. Let your thoughts wander, and get inspired by something besides another blog. All of my posts are written by hand, anyplace but at the computer. Even if David Airey gave me a spark, I can’t say what he said or even give it his spin if I’m nowhere near “him.”

    Regards,

    Kelly

    Kelly’s last blog post..What If That’s All You Have to Say?

  7. @ Kelly: I’m like that too. I’ll write something, then put it away. Perhaps I’ll pull it out and it will seem appropriate for the day, and I’ll share it. But sometimes it doesn’t make the cut.

    Also, my mind usually wanders very early in the morning, before I get up. Sort of the 2 am to 3 am time. That’s when I get some neat ideas, before my brain has filled up with the day’s noise.

    Brett Legree’s last blog post..the hero everyone said they knew.

  8. I love this post. Well after I made sure it wasn’t a surprise drive-by of my blog (it could’ve been with such a headline…).

    What you write is so true, and it carries way further than simply blog writing. The same message goes for many areas of life. There are so many hypes and fads that are so easy to get sucked in. A lot of people get sucked in and are regurgitating the (marketed) content and propaganda without thinking for themselves. Or even without considering whether they like it, or would like to participate. They do it, because everyone does it.

    I think it’s important to find your own voice and listen to it. If that voice says: Follow the hype! Then do it, because you like it and consciously decided to make that choice. If you listen to the inner voice and it says to do it because everyone does it, that’s okay too. As long as you make a conscious choice.

    @Brett: 2am 3am very early in the morning?! Dude! That’s in the middle of the night for me, and I get up at 5am…

    Lodewijk van den Broek’s last blog post..Tweak your passwords to benefit from them

  9. @ Lode: crazy, I know. I’m usually up at 4 am, sometimes I’ll wake up a bit earlier and have a thought. Never know when inspiration strikes…

    Or did you mean, you’re still up at 2 am and then get up at 5 am!

    Brett Legree’s last blog post..the hero everyone said they knew.

  10. @Brett: No…I need about 6 hours of sleep a night. So 2 am is really in the middle of those 6 hours ;)

    Lodewijk van den Broek’s last blog post..Tweak your passwords to benefit from them

  11. @ Lode: :) ah, okay! I usually get up at the same time each day, even on weekends, but I go to sleep when I feel tired, which is different each night. Sometimes, though, the kids or the cat wake me up and then I do some thinking…

    Brett Legree’s last blog post..the hero everyone said they knew.

  12. @Brett: Wow. Sometimes the kid or the cats wake me up too. I usually do some grumbling, comfort and caress the kid, kick the cats and find my way back to bed. But doing some thinking…no way, mentally incapacitated I guess at that time in my sleep cycle.

    Lodewijk van den Broek’s last blog post..Tweak your passwords to benefit from them

  13. I keep a pad and paper with me everywhere I go and when an idea comes along, it goes on the list. Then I write out my posts as the mood strikes. I have three or four half written ones at any given time that I keep working on, chiseling them down.

    I do agree with the google idea. I do that too. I don’t want to do something that has been done to death. I think it is weird how you can wake up one morning with an *original* idea and find out that the muse was sleeping around the whole night long.

    Wendi Kelly’s last blog post..Amazing Mountains

  14. Being unique is what makes us all different and I for one don’t understand either why so many bloggers seem to have to rehash what’s already been said. This is perhaps why I don’t even bother reading my feeds half of the time.

    It also makes me unsubscribe faster than you can think that thought. To be fair though I always give somebody a second chance. It’s kind of uninspiring to read the same stuff everywhere just because some people want to be popular and associated with those who started the trend.

    Like you James I often sit on topics and mull them over. I carry my trusted Moleskine everywhere these days and write down any inspiration I have. Some eventuate into posts and others never make it anywhere.

    I wonder, has everybody who reads this blog a cat? I hate cats. There, I said it.

    Monika Mundell’s last blog post..A Few Hickups

  15. I don’t have a cat. I am allergic to cats. Sets off my asthma. But I don’t hate them.

    I have two dogs, a lab and a Golden Retrevier.

    How did we get on this? Is it from the party last night and Harry wearing cat hair in the shower?

    It can be hard to keep up around here. Especially if you try to have any kind of life outside of Blogsville.

    Or if you blink.

    Wendi Kelly’s last blog post..Amazing Mountains

  16. Ah, I see the cat reference now, Brett, , Lode and I must have posted right around the same time, it didn’t show up until I refreshed. Makes more sense now.

    Wendi Kelly’s last blog post..Amazing Mountains

  17. @ Wendy: blinking is more likely. I saw the comments between Lode and Brett talking about cats and I know that both James and Harry owe them too. I feel like miauwing in cat land.

    Yeah, that party…wasn’t it great? :-)

    Monika Mundell’s last blog post..A Few Hickups

  18. This is a tough issue. Looking at Skellie’s latest post, I’m like… that’s Copyblogger 2006. But the newbies still need the info, and who can blame her for delivering it?

    Brian Clark’s last blog post..How to Be a Copywriting Genius: The Brilliantly Sneaky Trick You Must Learn

  19. @ Monika – I own two cats, yes. We share house space. They occasionally bug me for food and a 10-second pet, but as far as I’m concerned, they’re just pets like anything else. “Scram, cat” is frequently heard in my home. And I do NOT like barn cats or strays in the least.

    I do know that other people treat them as much more, though, so I let the FluffyLove slide and tolerate it. (Forgive me, FluffyLovers. I like you all. I don’t get the obsession, though.)

  20. To be honest, I’m more of a dog person myself, but we couldn’t handle a new dog back in 2006 when we had to have our black lab put down. On the other hand, Bill (that’s my cat) will fetch, so he’s sort of like a dog… ;)

    Then again, I’d rather have the cat jump up on the bed in the middle of the night. When Daisy (that was our 95 pound black lab) used to do that… ouch!

    Brett Legree’s last blog post..the hero everyone said they knew.

  21. And here I was thinking I was the only one without a love for cats. I’m actually a big animal lover but cats give me that creepy feeling when they rub themselves along my legs. Brrrrr….

    Anyway, enough of the cat wine. Back to your blog post. One question that arises aside from having a good ol’ complaint is to differentiate on what is new and what is rehashed.

    When we look at the history of blogging and the Internet in general I guess most things have been said, except of course those things that are yet to be discovered and invented.

    I think the secret here is to NOT jump on the same bandwagon everybody else does and stay true to ourselves, regardless whether we have more or less traffic because of.

    Monika Mundell’s last blog post..A Few Hickups

  22. Monika – your last statement seems to say it well. Write about something because you love it, and the love will show through in your writing. Work really hard at that. The traffic will follow. Or maybe not. But sometimes that’s okay, as long as you’re enjoying what you’re doing.

    Brett Legree’s last blog post..the hero everyone said they knew.

  23. @ Monika – See, the thing is, the history is over. Now it’s time to create the future, and *we* are the ones that will do exactly that. We’re going to make the Internet what it should be, now that everyone has discovered, explored and ruined it. Now is the time to pick up the pieces and build something better. We are the future of the web.

    @ Brian – It is a tough issue, but oh, what a tangled web we weave… There are ways to present the information in a manner that helps newcomers without coming off as just another sticky spiderweb that clogs the pipes with a ball of glumpy silk. It’s much better to create a web strung from branches and spread to catch the drops for all to see and marvel at. The question is, how?

    @ Lode – Yes. People need to learn to listen to themselves again. I think we’ve forgotten how.

    @ Kelly – Blog fatigue. You’ve just named the issue right there.

    Wow… a lot of comments today – and really thoughtful ones. Can I be forgiven for saying, “You guys rock,” and leaving it at that?

  24. @ James & Lode: listening to yourself is something you can learn to do again. The books I am writing are my own, so won’t be rehashed from anything, but even so – some of the best writing I’ve done has been under my favourite tree in my backyard. A comfortable chair, a beer, and the grass between my toes.

    If the topic is one that’s been covered before, perhaps look at it from a different angle – maybe as if you are trying to explain it to a child, or an elderly person, rather than someone with the same background as yourself. That can force you to examine issues you hadn’t considered before, and make the words unique.

    Brett Legree’s last blog post..the hero everyone said they knew.

  25. @ Brett: I love your child angle. We have lost the ability to act like children and in blog post construction this could actually be beneficial since it magnifies our creativity.

    Monika Mundell’s last blog post..A Few Hickups

  26. @Brett: I know, been doing that for a while now. It’s hard at times, but rewarding most of the time. It’s also aligned with the message I’m trying to get across with my blog.

    Lodewijk van den Broek’s last blog post..Tweak your passwords to benefit from them

  27. @ Monika: thank you! I also use it as an “acid test” or “crap detector” sometimes. I have a theory, if you can’t explain something in 5 minutes to a 5-year old, it’s probably crap and you should go back to the drawing board. I’m always amazed at what my kids are capable of understanding if i word it correctly.

    @ Lode: I agree, it can be difficult to get into this zone sometimes. I guess what works for me is having little routines and special places I go to think. I sure do miss that tree in the winter though… :)

    Brett Legree’s last blog post..the hero everyone said they knew.

  28. @ Brett: crap detector, sounds like a good measurement. What to do when one hasn’t got kids as guinea ears though?

    I shall ponder that while I sleep. Night all. Later.

    Monika Mundell’s last blog post..A Few Hickups

  29. Brett Legree says:

    @ Monika: if you don’t have kids as a sounding board, I’d suggest this – minimize the number of words with more than two syllables.

    Notice how the important words have one or two syllables – food, fire, house, sex (hey, it’s Maslow all over again), man, woman, dog, horse, life, water.

    Then you have the other stuff like “Client Requirements Document” or “Engineering Change Control”… :) oh, just to pick a few out of my current day. What the hell is that?

    Have a good rest!

    Brett Legree’s last blog post..the hero everyone said they knew.

  30. @James Apollinaire Chartrand-( I read the links too. Saw a man on a mission. )

    “”Come to the edge,” He said. They said, “We are afraid.” “Come to the edge,” He said. They came. He pushed them… and they flew.”

    Alors, Je n’ai pas du chat . Pas de chien. ( Commes les autres.) Just keep pushing , you manly Men With Pens. Well done. ; )

    Janice Cartier’s last blog post..What Happens in Vegas

  31. Are we being original by talking about being original? She asks somewhat facetiously…
    “See, the thing is, the history is over. Now it’s time to create the future, and *we* are the ones that will do exactly that. We’re going to make the Internet what it should be, now that everyone has discovered, explored and ruined it.”
    How many people have felt this way throughout history? Probably every human endeavor has in some way been “discovered, explored, and ruined.” History IS over, but we can’t erase it. Nothing comes from nothing. Even your personal perspective was shaped by forces that already exist.
    I actually agree with you re: rehashed web content and admire your vision. Just being purposely difficult. :)

  32. “It’s much better to create a web strung from branches and spread to catch the drops for all to see and marvel at.

    At the risk of being seen as a huge suck-up, this is the freshest thing I have read this morning. Like a cool drink of fresh well water. I will curse the Canadian too when he deserves it, never fear.

    Janice Cartier’s last blog post..What Happens in Vegas

  33. You’re right James. When I started out blogging, I read an article that showed me how to come up with “great” topics – one of the tips was to look through your RSS Feed for ideas.

    A few months later I changed things up…now I look at my RSS feed to see what NOT to write about.

    Chad’s last blog post..Forget the Elevator Speech!

  34. Brett Legree says:

    @ Chad: or as James suggested, take the opposing view – and so, if your RSS feed is full of articles on whatever, just write something that throws mud in the face of the “groupthink”… :)

    Brett Legree’s last blog post..the hero everyone said they knew.

  35. Hey, anyone get the idea James really doesn’t like reading the same old stuff on the web? hehe

    Ok, here’s my 25-cents . . .

    If it’s just released, you can be sure it’s the talk of the town. So wait. Don’t post. Read what others have to say first. Give the fad a week or two and post your personal review instead.

    James, I see your point about the review because then it’s personable. But I’m not sold on the waiting part. If something new comes out, shouldn’t we strive to be one of the first to talk about it? Let others review what I have to say, not the other way around. If you wait for it to cool down a little, then you’ll be posting about a topic that might have been beaten to death . . . and tons of reviews done on it already.

    Also, Brian brings up a good point and is something I mentioned in your comment section on a previous post similar to this one. The problem is our niche readers need this information, especially if they are newcomers. I think a website would come off far worse if every time there was something important to tell your readers, like SEO, selling benefits vs. features, or how to write a tagline, you gave them a link to go and read.

    I’m with you though, don’t be Copyblogger or MwP 2006. Write original content. In the long run, that’s what will make you truly remarkable. Think long term and short goals.

    Possible solution:

    Here’s what I’ve started to do. I think it’s a great plan to provide my site’s visitors with all the old information they need (like how to write a business plan) while creating blog posts that don’t beat down old topics to experienced and influential blog readers.

    I’m making use of my community forum and static web pages to write about things I know about that have been beaten down, like SEO, but my niche readers need to know about.

    Obviously, a web hosting company that posts and encourages SEO discussion is a great idea and this fix will make it so a RSS feed reader won’t piss blog readers off.

    What do you think? Is this a good win-win fix? Or can it be improved upon? (The fix is combining a forum and blog)

    @Chad – that’s funny about you and your RSS.

    John Hoff’s last blog post..The Best Rule To Follow: Keep It Simple

  36. I think this is only a problem (multiple sources of old news) when blog audiences overlap. Unfortunately, since we subscribe to multiple blogs, often in the same niche, repetition is unavoidable.

    Having said that, James brings forth a lot of good ideas to help differentiate articles, especially finding the angle no one else has seen.

    Mark Dykeman’s last blog post..You are about to read a unit of commodity

  37. John,

    One of the most interesting ideas I ever read about job-hunting tactics, believe it or not, has a bit to do with this. It was suggested that job-hunters scour the papers from about six to eight weeks earlier, and apply for those jobs, tweaking their cover so it didn’t appear that you were an idiot with no sense of time, just someone with a fresh solution for what the employer needed.

    The idea is this: after several weeks with the new hire, some employers may be realizing that the employee is not a good fit—and may have figured out what they really do need by then, too—so you swoop in.

    If you pile on with a post (even if you’re early to the pile) when everyone else is discussing the same topic, you are one of a million. Even the Big Boys get confused for each other when they all write about the same thing (did I hear that at Copyblogger -sorry Brian- or Problogger? At Zen Habits or 4HWW? Chris Garrett or Chris Brogan? HELP!).

    If you come back at the topic after it’s been hashed and rehashed, then let go and cooled, with your own perspective on it, you can say what hasn’t been said, and you can say it when the noise is far less. You can offer the fresh solution, and if you must talk about something that’s “been done,” at least you’ll have a better chance of being remembered for it.

    Another two bits on a great subject.

    Regards,

    Kelly

    Kelly’s last blog post..What If That’s All You Have to Say?

  38. @Kelly – I think maybe you missed my point. My point was I wouldn’t purposely avoid talking about a brand new topic, service, product, etc. just for the fact that others will be talking about it.

    James mentioned “Just released,” and that’s what I’m referring to, not something that’s been out for a long time.

    I’m too curious of a person to sit back and wait. I want to be among the first to try something, review it, and talk about it and not let others do that and then I comment.

    Does that make sense – being an early adopter.

    John Hoff’s last blog post..The Best Rule To Follow: Keep It Simple

  39. Oh, and also, if you wait too long to touch on a “Just released” thing, your readers might see that as you’re not on the cutting edge. You’re following, not leading.

    John Hoff’s last blog post..The Best Rule To Follow: Keep It Simple

  40. @ John – I’ll give you an example. How long has Twitter been out? How many people posted about it? How to use it? Its benefits?

    Did you see US write about that?

    Yes. Sunday, as a matter of fact, WEEKS after everyone else had been talking about it (and still is). Why did I wait? So I could offer what everyone else hadn’t – the realtime user experience and experimental results.

    It got good traffic – better than posts that give the early “check it out” rah rah.

    James Chartrand – Men with Pens’s last blog post..How to Write About Old News and Be Original

  41. @ John – Gotta disagree with the cutting edge thing.

    When everyone leaps on the “just released!” my first thought is – wow. How credible and reputable. They haven’t even had time to try it out yet before cheering.

    The advantage to waiting? Because if you hear about it on Men with Pens, you can be damned sure we’ve bought it, tasted it, tried it, read it or agonized over it. You *know* we’ve kicked that ball until it busted (or didn’t).

    And if we liked it, you should like it too :)

    James Chartrand – Men with Pens’s last blog post..How to Write About Old News and Be Original

  42. @ Kelly- I like that idea and the analogy. Thanks for the muffins Saturday. And thanks for this, won’t bore you with the details, but you have given me an idea. Really, thanks.
    All best, Jan

    Janice C Cartier’s last blog post..What Happens in Vegas

  43. Janice,

    Ha! You’re welcome. My daughter loved them, too. Must go read Janice’s post, to find out what happens in Vegas…

    John,

    My point was not to go back six weeks looking for a topic (although that works too). To reverse your statement: my point was TO purposely avoid talking about a brand new topic, service, product, etc. Yes, just for the fact that others will be talking about it. To go forward six weeks, then write what you have been thinking about, with some perspective on it.

    & what James just said, re: tire-kicking etc.

    Later,

    Kelly

    Kelly’s last blog post..What If That’s All You Have to Say?

  44. @James – I knew you were thinking about Twitter and yes, what you say has merit when it comes to reviewing new products and services. But must you actually try something before you blog about it?

    If we’re talking about business tips, wouldn’t blogging about how the product is making an impact on the business world even before it’s released worth talking about?

    . . . or am I off subject from the post?

    John Hoff’s last blog post..The Best Rule To Follow: Keep It Simple

  45. Janice,

    You mean in Vegas I can marry Ashton Kutcher and get rich? Harry, get that sofa ready. I’m willing to put up with the heat for a weekend. Ahem. Plus that cake that you’re painting is beautiful. I might do it in miniature for my (daughter’s) dollhouse.

    Later,

    Kelly

    Kelly’s last blog post..What If That’s All You Have to Say?

  46. @Kelly – I see that good for “review” posts, but do you purposely avoid talking about new products just so you can review it?

    Aren’t there other aspects about how a product hits the market that might be worth talking about?

    John Hoff’s last blog post..The Best Rule To Follow: Keep It Simple

  47. John,

    I don’t review products, so to speak, at MCE, but I do find myself with things to discuss that have been done. In fact occasionally I’ll have a post ready to go, then find that someone I read has sent a post on a similar subject out twelve hours before mine. I pull it, wait, and rework a few weeks later.

    My offline example: If I read Time and Fortune, for instance, and they both interview Steve Jobs in a week, I’m gonna get less out of each interview. If they do it, and Business Week, and the Wall Street Journal, and Print does it (graphic design mag), and Architectural Digest tours his house, and MacWorld does yet another love-fest on him… BLAH. Yeah, yeah, thin f–ing laptop. I can’t buy them all, can’t read them all, and I can’t stand that they’ve all been so unoriginal. Even though I love him and if Ashton Kutcher doesn’t meet me in Vegas I could be available.

    Now, if Harvard Business Review sees all the hoopla, waits six weeks, and does a really thoughtful piece on the management process that helps percolate great new ideas like clockwork at Apple… I’ve got a few dollars (time, for blogs) free, and I’m not fatigued from it all, and I’m listening again.

    Some say discuss that thin laptop until it hurts, and get there fast. IMHO, the scoop is simply not worth getting, but creating real value with something designed to provoke thought, not just stake a claim to getting there first, is worth it.

    That is, if you’ve got to discuss it at all. Best practice: the road not taken.

    Regards,

    Kelly

    Kelly’s last blog post..What If That’s All You Have to Say?

  48. @James: I dumped my feed reader in disgust weeks ago- completely deleted the program from my hard drive in a fit of frustration, so I am SO glad to read you feel the same.

    I like the idea that we are creating the future for the Internet. It makes my job seem significant.

  49. @James: Dude, Twitter is SO 2007. You’re not weeks of, but months! It’s in the upward slope of the hype cycle now.

    Lodewijk van den Broek’s last blog post..Tweak your passwords to benefit from them

  50. @ kelly- Road trip!

    @ Jamie-I have ben deleting bookmarks and subscriptions for a week too. Virtual spring cleaning time maybe. :)

    It is a morass of mediocre out there sometimes, echoed about. Should make it easier then to stand out. Pathfinders get a better view I am told.

    Janice C Cartier’s last blog post..What Happens in Vegas

  51. It seems that Mr Mark Evans agrees with your post James. http://www.markevanstech.com/2008/03/30/why-original-blog-thought-is-so-difficult/

  52. @Lode: Prolificacy=Fruitfulness… I like it.

    The Pen Men and their loyal readers are frustrated at the prolificacy of redundant, unoriginal thought on the Net. :)

  53. Heh, for a second, I thought you were linking me to yet another copyscammer splog!

  54. Okay. You guys just cost me 3200.00 today. Yep.

    I scrapped the oil painting I was going to donate to the Audubon Zoo Fund Raiser because it wasn’t original, seemed forced, and in my opinion actually sucked although it was “passable”.
    I cannot tell you how much better it feels to give them something more personal, more eloquent and more valuable, a lush watercolor that came straight from the heart.

    Your bailiwick is words, mine happens to be visual, but I tend to like actions that match the words. Otherwise, more echo. No progress forward.

    So thanks, you rats. I blame you all.

    Great links. Good points.

    Janice C Cartier’s last blog post..What Happens in Vegas

  55. Janice,

    You’re great!

    Designers worth two bits worry about being derivative all day long (especially since one of the chief ways to communicate with a client is by asking about other designs they know and like). I’d bet Harry’s spent many a midnight throwing out a banner that felt too similar to other work of his own or someone else’s, and I’ve certainly done it in my own work. A lot of times I know that only I will know I didn’t put enough original thought into the work. As soon as that temptation whispers to me, the design goes right in the trash. It’s a slippery slope.

    BTW, I love your blue strawberries. Very sensual. You do really neat work.

    Looking at your site reminds me of how much I miss painting regularly. All applied art makes Kelly a dull chick.

    Regards,

    Kelly

    Note to gentlemen with pens: You will never see bailiwick in a comment section on any other blog. This is the 13. 2nd reason why MWP rocks.

    Kelly’s last blog post..What If That’s All You Have to Say?

  56. Dude! I sent you a link to a splog! So sorry. Must be that speed reading thing in action. You may flog me 100 lashes with SEO content about life insurance at disgustingly cheap prices. Oh, wait, I already did that to myself…

  57. @ Jamie – No, it wasn’t a splog, LOL. I thought it was by the way you worded your comment. It was a good article.

    @ Kelly – We rock because you guys make us rock. And yes. Harry has tossed many banners because he didn’t want to be like everyone else. Then I made him toss even more because I wanted his banners to be awestriking. Then Harry grumbled for days about always having to come up with the “OOOOH” factor and who did people think he was, god?

    To which I responded, “No, Harry. I’m god. You’re Harry.” ;)

    @ Janice – Si ce n’était pas bien, ce n’étais pas vous. Alors, on scrappe, et on peinture de notre coeur. Translation: Next time you want to toss 3k, please write the cheque to James Chartrand…

    @ Lode – You see? What’s SO 2007 will now be hip again, because I’m months behind the curve and getting people all excited all over. ;)

    @ John – If I haven’t lived it, felt it, smelled it, breathed it and held it in my hands, then no, I cannot blog about it and call myself an authority on it – because I’d be faking it. And I’m not a blogger who fakes :)

  58. If James =God, and James + Harry = One Rockin’ ORIGINAL Blog, then Harry must = one spectacularly original party animal.

  59. @Brian – I don’t think that’s fair. Skellie is very inventive. In fact, I read a lot of the same go around on your blog.

    So tell me, friend, what’s new under the sun? Eh? Can you enlighten me?

    Ellen Wilson’s last blog post..Ugly Duckling Blogger

  60. @ Ellen: That, indeed is the true argument, isn’t it? Ecclesiastes says there’s nothing new under the sun, and that was written my a man who had untold wealth and resources at his disposal and indulges himself in every whim…..

    It puts things in perspective. However, you can be creative with your writing instead of following everyone else in sheep-like fashion. I believe that is James’ point- and his passion.

  61. @everyone- so we did good today, yes?

    @ James- Merci Quebecois. Tu m’a fait souire encore un fois. Le chèque il est arrivé . Tell Harry I want some of that OOOH :)

    @Kelly- Aw shucks, thanks. I suspect you would have to try real hard to be dull though.

    I must have cocktail now I think.

    Janice C Cartier’s last blog post..What Happens in Vegas

  62. @Jamie So true. I think Brett had it right saying, “I like to read what you & Harry write not only because it is interesting, but because it is “what James & Harry think about the topic”.”

    Isn’t that why we stop by here daily to see what they’ll come up with next? No, it’s not always new, but it’s delivered by two men with very interesting personalities and that shows through in their blog. Then, when the personality part starts to wear on you (I jest!), you come back because you’ve come to respect their opinions. That’s what keeps me keep coming back.

  63. @ Ellen – Now, now… Be nice to the man that we’re trying to overthrow…

    To be honest (and not a fanboy), Brian himself tends to have some very creative angles and ways of looking at things. There’s a reason I point to some of his posts, and it isn’t to attract his attention.

    There is only one other person in the blogosphere that can make me read, stop and have to actually walk away from the computer to think on the words. It ain’t Skellie (much as I love her, too).

    @ Jamie – I love you to death. Now put that bible away, would you? Makes me nervous, quiet Canadian that I am :)

    @ Janice РSwanky all the way, babykins. Sant̩.

  64. @Nicole: Perfectly stated. :)

  65. @ Nicole – Will you be my new favorite person?

    You’re very right, though, and that’s the point of the post. We can’t always come up with what’s new, but we can add our own perspective, thoughts, views or experiences to make the story original, at the very least. Plus, it just feels better to be ourselves.

  66. Brett Legree says:

    @ James: she’s cool, isn’t she? The perspective you guys offer is very real. I think you said it earlier in the comments, but as a reader I can vouch for what you said – when I read a post you’ve written about e.g. Twitter, I *know* you’ve given it a thorough shakedown and I can trust what you say – I know someone didn’t just slip you 50 bucks and ask you to write the post.

    That’s worth a lot.

    Brett Legree’s last blog post..the hero everyone said they knew.

  67. I just found your blog a couple weeks ago, thanks to Problogger. Since then I have been reading really great reads, and frankly found no rehashed leftovers here. Thanks for writing that is crisp with a slightly curved edge. :-)

    One point that stood out, among many, is the “thought leadership” concept. Don’t be afraid to state your case and be a voice amongst many.

    Thanks
    Harmony

    Harmony’s last blog post..The ABC’s of Golden Zen

  68. It’s not fair to gang up on Skellie.

    Ellen Wilson’s last blog post..Ugly Duckling Blogger

  69. @ Ellen – Don’t worry, no one did. One or two comments does not a gang make.

    @ Harmony – You don’t worry either. Holding back on my opinion is not my strongest point and I’m usually the one saying blue when everyone else says red. Good to see you here, and welcome!

  70. I teach business James, and you are just the student I am on the look out for in class! Lordie lordie!
    Warm smiles,
    Harmony

    Harmony’s last blog post..The ABC’s of Golden Zen

  71. *grin* Troublemaker, huh?

    (am not!)

  72. @James: You are too a trouble maker.

  73. Now, now boys… play nice.

    @Brett You were saying? (slips both James and Brett $50)

  74. I know, feel, hear and smell, bullshit when I see it. And it can be pretty subtle.

    And I’m not one for being nice, or not saying what I feel either. But you know that, eh?

    Actually, Harry, it was Brian, who was the troublemaker. And I am only reacting to that. And, if he was here, we would fence. But alas, he is gone.

    Touche. E

    Ps. But James did step up to the plate, now that I remember. En garde!

    Ellen Wilson’s last blog post..Ugly Duckling Blogger

  75. Darn it! I read James’ latest post late again and now I’m the last to comment. BAH! :-)

    Anyway, this set of advice is not new, but it is worth repeating. I have to read this (again) to remind myself about my own blog writing.

    Rudy’s last blog post..Dental Impression

  76. Brett Legree says:

    @ Nicole: (pockets the $50) what would you like me to write? :)

    Brett Legree’s last blog post..focus on writing – part 1 – back to the future.

  77. James,

    You know, now that I think about it…I need to apologize for my hot-headedness. Reacting emotionally to what I went through as a child, having been scape goated and picked on; I am quick to jump to the defense of the underdog. Or who I think is being picked on.

    First Brett’s most excellent post, and then the Skellie/Brian/James thing, triggered those old childhood memories.

    Sorry for being an ass.

    I understand what you guys are doing – competition being what it is. And I enjoy reading your stuff, and do appreciate Men with Pens.

    Ellen

    Ellen Wilson’s last blog post..Ugly Duckling Blogger

  78. @ Ellen – S’okay. I’m an ass often and forgiveness is all part of lovin’ each other.

    Remember that bloggers put themselves out there, for better or for worse. We can all take the heat – if we didn’t, we’d get out of the kitchen. Criticism figures highly in the game of blogging and it’s all good. Skellie’s not crying, Brian probably has lunch with her at conferences and that’s the way of it. It’s pretty normal for bloggers to be called out and it’s all good.

  79. I learned something about myself last night. Thanks for teaching me that. O’ Captain, My Captain. E

    Ellen Wilson’s last blog post..Ugly Duckling Blogger

  80. Regurgitated or rehashed material seems popular with some bloggers who seem much more interested in their Digg position than they do with contributing interesting information online.

    I like the approach you take in suggesting people take a different position or post a personal review once the buzz dies down.

  81. Another tip for blog writers – ignore 99 per cent of the resulting comments. I wonder what proportion of commenters actually have a *real* point to make and how many are justing commenting to promote their own site.

    How many comments would this post have, for example, if it didn’t have links back to commenters own sites (my own included)?

    This is a genuine question. Seth Godin makes a point of not allowing people to comment on his blog posts.

    By the way – isn’t waiting to comment on old news likelt to make your blog posts irrelevant? I agree news is cyclical, but this concept of waiting around until the debate may be reignighted again just doesn’t feel right.

    kenobi’s last blog post..FT.com web strategy – assuming the site isn’t down

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