4 techniques for more original writing
Been there, done that, eaten the t-shirt, got the pie.
When we see the same ideas, cliches and concepts knocking around we get bored, we lose respect and we fail to grasp tangible details of the copy we’re reading.
Unfortunately, coming up with original goods each and every time is a bit of a push, especially when you make a living from writing all day long. We train ourselves to reach for shortcuts and fail-safes because the process of creating something original often isn’t achievable with the resources or time we’re given.
So let’s shake that shit up, shall we?
Here are the techniques I use to comb over my copy and add original flavour.
- Know your fail-safe words and phrases
We all have those tried and tested phrases that we reach for when writing. Mine is that I tend to structure sentences in the exact same way when I’m trying to write marketing—it drives me crazy now that I realise I’m doing it.
The trick here is to recognise your familiar writing patterns—be that words, structures and phrases—and root them out during the editing process. Try making a list of the things you write on the regular, then checking them off your list as you comb through the first draft. You’ll be forcing yourself to think of new ways to write things, and that can only ever be good.
2. Reframe it
This is a cheeky little psychology exercise but it works so well for writing. The technique of reframing requires you to take an idea and completely flip it on its head. For example, if your client wanted you to write about how they’re the best, perhaps you’ll change the perspective to a customer who has only ever had negative experiences with a lesser competitor.
Reframing allows us to reverse the emotion, perspective and angle of the piece, thereby totally changing the tone it sets. It gives you the chance to see something in a totally new way and—Bob’s your uncle—you get more original copy!
3. Check your buzzword usage
Buzzwords are like chicken pox—one poor sucker gestates a phrase, puts it out into the world and everyone catches it.
Buzzwords aren’t just unoriginal—they also have very little substance. We don’t really know what they mean and they’re so overused that they don’t convey anything very effectively.
If you’re a buzzword infectee, try combing back through your draft and rooting out any of the offending terms. Think about how else you could say it or force yourself to think of a different way to convey the message while sticking to the tone. You’ll be alright, sunshine.
4. Steal creatively
Anyone who’s ever read Mark Twain knows that there are no original ideas. Fair enough (there’s no need to be a dick about it). What we can do is approach an existing idea in a completely new way. We can try flipping the perspective, we can pull out unique benefits and—most of all—we can put our own stamp on it. If all ideas are recycled then I’ll be goddamned if I’m going to approach the theft in an unoriginal way!
Which methods do you use to make your writing more original? Are there any ideas here you think you’d try? Comment below!