I’ve written before about other writers and publications being great sources of inspiration for articles. The bloggers here on FWJ often inspire me to my next post and I appreciate them for it. There is a difference, however, between being inspired by a piece and copying it. I know, I know, you can’t believe there is someone out there stealing ideas like the Grinch sliding in on Christmas night, but it does happen. There are some dirty, no-good, low down keyboard tappers that steal ideas from their fellow professionals. There are also some folks who really don’t know the difference.
- involves perspiration – meaning even great ideas take work to go from light bulb moments to published content.
- is grateful to the muse & will give a shout out when appropriate – a blog nod, a citation or source credit.
- takes an idea and expands it, seeks new angles or adds new information.
- drives writers to gather different sources and publications to pitch.
- can help create a piece vastly different than the original article.
- often involves cut & paste, making it too easy to be real work.
- tries to hid the original source.
- uses information without citation.
- shows up when a writer is pinched for time, ideas or talent.
- can also be plagiarism.
- has the same tone, angle and/or article structure as the “inspiration article.”
- should leave a dirty feeling in your soul.
- is a cheap carbon copy without the heart, respect or reliability as an article written from real work.
Writing is a tough business, I have weeks where I bang my head against my laptop trying to come up with new information or to find a new angle on an evergreen writing topic, however, there is never any excuse for taking the easy way out and stealing from another writer. If you ever wonder if your piece is infringing upon another’s work go with caution, cite your source, get permissions, etc.
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