Those of us who follow the journalism side of the blogging world watched a big story unfold this week. A blogger discovered that Maureen Dowd, long-time columnist for the New York Times, had a paragraph in a recent column that matched a previously published blog post almost word-for-word and she did not credit the source. Ms. Dowd says that she had no idea this came from a published blog and if she did, she would have attributed it.
But the issue gets even more interesting because she said she received the information from a friend. So, now we also know that her friend did the same thing when she was communicating to Dowd about the issue. Apparently they both just copied and pasted someone else’s words and used them as their own.
Most news reports and commentators are focusing on the non-attribution of previously written and published material, but let’s focus on another, more subtle lesson to be learned for all bloggers, journalistic or not:
Copying and pasting is bad for developing creativity.
Of course, we constantly absorb information all day long and after a while it can truly be hard to see how this influences our end product, whether it’s something written, a musical composition, a painting, or any other creative work. On a certain level, sometimes subtle and sometimes not, we all end up copying or being influenced by those who came before. But that’s different than a straight cut and paste job.
Those of us who interact online can get caught up in a fast-paced world where everyone wants to be first with information, but it’s much more important to find the unique and interesting angle that meets your needs and goals. If that takes more time, you don’t need to worry about it because the people you want to reach will know and will see the value.
And perhaps more importantly, you are developing and improving your creative ability in general. Copying and pasting is not going to do this. Creativity is one of the most important abilities you can develop to set yourself apart from everyone else in the crowd. Do the necessary research to gather the information you need, but after that’s done, sit down and think for yourself. Slow down, relax and when you find your unique angle, it will all come together.
The time you take to work on your creativity will pay off in more ways than just writing a well-crafted blog post. Creativity is what solves problems and if you are busy working on creativity in every way, you will be much more prepared to use your brain to solve other problems and issues that come up. This will help you not only as you continue to develop your blog, but in other areas of your life as well.
Spend your time creating, not copying and pasting.