This post, Common Blogging Topics: Copying or Creating Anew, is about a potential blogging issue I have been thinking about lately. During the run up to Christmas I was considering what to write about, but posts were appearing all over the place covering many of the topics I was considering. I was feeling like I had been pipped to the post, so to speak (excuse the pun). My ideas were being pretty much covered and covered in very good posts by some of my favourite bloggers. So my quandary was thus: do I still write my posts on those topics? Do I just write them my way after I’d seen the same topic by other bloggers? After all, I wouldn’t want them to think I was ripping off their ideas having read their posts and commented. Would my posts be seen by some as a form of plagiarism? What is the blogging etiquette? If there is a blogging etiquette to consider at all.

Then I came across a post by one of my favourite bloggers, Martyn Kitney, who blogs at Inside Martyn’s Thoughts. A post that covered some of the negative points I was considering. Martyn had written an unscheduled blog post called Playground Blogging having been accused of ‘copying posts’ and using another blogger’s work for ‘post ideas.’ Obviously, as my worries on festive posts were along these lines, I was more than intrigued. You can read the post for yourselves via the link above, but suffice it to say the feedback Martyn received in the post comments was encouraging and extremely supportive. This got me to thinking: is there such a thing as a blogging topic that hasn’t been covered? Well, I doubt it. And if there is it would be as rare as a chocolate fireguard. So I also decided to write an unscheduled post having come to some conclusions of my own about the questions I have asked above.

But let’s look at a wider, more famous perspective first. Having studied literature, one of the things I realised quite early on was that in a world of limited plot lines and themes there are few fresh ideas to consider. And due to the plethora of writing that exists in the world, most things have been written about before, only to be rehashed in one form or another again and again and again. For instance, did Shakespeare turn in his grave in 1961 when the musical West Side Story was released?

For those of you who don’t know, West Side Story was based on Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet. If he did turn in his grave, it would have been a hypocritical move. After all, few of Shakespeare’s writings are believed to be original ideas, including Romeo and Juliet. He often borrowed stories from those who had gone before. What made the difference was how Shakespeare rewrote them, the breath-taking language he crafted, and the poetic style he used; the new life he breathed into an old plot or idea. West Side Story was the same story, but a musical set in 1950s America.

West Side Story

What made it different was the form used: the music of Leonard Bernstein and the lyrics of Stephen Sondheim, and the conception and choreography of Jerome Robbins. Although the settings were centuries apart, the story and plot were the same. There are, of course, numerous examples of famous stories being rewritten, but too many to go into here. But I think I have made my point. There is very little that hasn’t been written about, or that has been written that doesn’t have echoes of other works. Consider the characters Harry Potter and Luke Skywalker. There is a lot of argument online about the similarities between the characters (I’ll leave that one there). So why should blogging be any different? Especially if you’re blogging in a specific blogging genre, such as parenting.

Which brings us back to my mundane world of blogging. So where does that leave me? Well, I have come to the conclusion that you should write about anything you like. There is no need to worry about being accused of copying another blogger’s idea(s) – unless, of course, you are lifting complete passages from their posts without referencing them, or copying complete posts. That’s just plagiarism. Here’s the litmus test: pick a topic, any topic, and Google it and you will find numerous posts relating to your search. Especially during particular seasons like Christmas. It would be a rare day should your search deliver nothing (there’s a good chance here that some of you are going to waste a couple of hours trying this … if so, enjoy!).

So, once again, where does that leave me as a blogger? Well, I’ve decided that I’m going to continue enjoying posts others have written, but I am not going to discount the topic as a current or future topic for me. I’m just going to be myself and write my own posts in my style. I’m not even sure why I was worried about this in the first place. For instance, I read a great post by another one of my favourites, Nige at DIY Daddy, about a visit to see Santa with his four-year-old twin girls: Our Annual Visit to see Santa. It’s a great post, and a topic I’m writing about now because I have just done the same thing with Fidget & Little Man. However, my post will be different because it’s written by me about my kids and our experience. I don’t think Nige would expect other bloggers to leave the topic alone because he has already posted. Let me extend this point a little. If we gave ten bloggers a post to write entitled ‘Christmas Day 2016,’ my expectation would be that we would receive ten very different posts. There will, of course, be small similarities, but what we could expect to stand out would be the writers’ styles, viewpoint and their individuality of approach. And there are as many styles, viewpoints and approaches as there are writers.

For instance, in October, during conker season, I wrote about a trip to our local park with the kids: In 100 Words: “Chasing Rainbows”. What made it different from other posts about a day in the park was that I used a short story format and tried to express a specific mood and event that was relevant to us at the time. Now whether I was successful is not for me to say; that’s for the reader to decide. But it was the difference of approach that mattered to me. Another example is a post I wrote about Little Man’s obsession with Fidget’s hair, called In 100 Words: “Straightening Her Curls”. He loved to pull on her ringlets. It was a phase he was going through at the time. Now I’m sure many a parenting blogger has written about siblings and hair pulling, but I would not expect to be called to task about my take on the topic because I wrote the piece in my words and style. It would be a very dreary blogging world indeed if we all refrained from writing a particular post because the topic had been covered recently by another blogger. None of us would be writing. And, I would suggest, it would be a very dreary blogger indeed who thinks their topic ideas are totally unique and therefore untouchable.

So this is where I stand: what is unique to me is a writer’s style, their approach and their perspective – in a nutshell, their blogging voice. And with that voice many bloggers are able to take any topic, regardless of how many times it has been written about, and sing. That’s not mimicry or a pilfering of ideas, it’s creative blogging of a common theme. So go ahead, use your voice, be creative about any topic you like, regardless of who has written about it recently, and then just sing. Because your voice will be different from the next you’ll be taking common blogging topics and creating anew.

Merry Christmas; merry blogging.

 

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