Words Wisely Chosen: But Are They Yours?



By: Marilyn L. Davis


Words Wisely Chosen But Are They Yours marilyn l davis two drops of ink
Source: Asa H. Gordon Library Research Guides Avoiding Plagiarism


Don’t Plagiarize Their Words; instead, Be Original


There are just going to be days when you can’t get into the flow of the words, can’t reach a logical conclusion, or have too much going on to write a quality article. On those days, jot down the good ideas, sentences, or titles that you can use another day.

Keep a darling file and know that you did write today; you just didn’t publish. It’s better not to publish than to rehash or plagiarize another writer’s words.


Sites want Original Content, Not a Cut, and Paste


“A word is not the same with one writer as it is with another. One tears it from his guts. The other pulls it out of his overcoat pocket.” ― Charles PéguyBasic Verities, Prose, and Poetry

I have read articles that I know are a composite or merging of several writers. We all use language in ways that are particular to our writing style: specific words, sentences, and paragraphs sound like us. 

When you read an article that changes syntax or grammar, sentence structure, language, and style, it is legitimate to question whether the writer did not just lift some online information hoping to get something published that day.

Some writers get desperate and start reading about a subject they think they can write about, and before too long, they are copying and pasting.

Some writers justify a cut and paste as “I’ll just have another writer’s work on my computer for inspiration” and then create a composite page.

It’s a form of plagiarism that I refer to as the mixed bag page. No, you won’t find that in the Urban Dictionary; it is just what I call something that reads false or fused from several writers. 

While we all read and may reference other articles that validate or support our original work, cut and paste is theft.

Don’t be concerned if you do not create a new blog every day. It is better to sleep on your post and write it tomorrow than to borrow from another illegally. You will gain a reputation for honest, factual, authentic, and original pieces if you let your ideas gel for a day or so and then come back to write.


Patchwriting Is Also an Issue


The Urban Dictionary defines patchwriting as:

1. Taking large portions of source material and cutting and pasting into another article

2. Multiple quotations from other writings inserted to beef up an article or meet a word count.

3. Copying research and white papers and then writing minimal original copy to create an article.

It can be as simple as writing what The Bedford Handbook for Writers calls “paraphrasing the source’s language too closely.” (477).

Patchwriting is every bit as dishonest as cutting and pasting without a link, attribution, or credit to the source. Click To Tweet


Outright Plagiarism


I have found multiple examples of my original materials on various sites by using Copyscape. This site also offers advice on what to do if you should see your original writing on another unauthorized site. Typically, I will check my articles about every two months by simply choosing a sentence or two and then run it through Copyscape.

When I have found my work elsewhere, I have written the administrator at some sites and referenced where the article originated, including the date of the first online entry. Also, you can file a notice of Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) infringement with search engines such as Google and others to have the writing removed from their search results.

Every writer needs to check his or her articles, blogs, and pages periodically. We all need to protect our original writings. If they’re found on multiple sites without permission or credit, it can adversely affect your ratings.

Just as importantly, if someone realizes you plagiarize, it defeats your purpose in claiming to be a writer.

If you want to be a writer – write, using your thoughts, ideas, words, and phrases. 

Tear it from your gut; consolidate your thoughts and feelings, and then you’re honest when you say, “I’m a writer; those are my words.”


Write That Original Guest Post


When you’re ready to write an original piece for a wider audience, consider a guest post.


Words Wisely Chosen: But Are They Yours? marilyn l davis two drops of ink plagiarism

Two Drops of Ink: The Literary Home for Collaborative Writing 



  1. Thanks for this Marilyn! Great post! Respect and Integrity. So many writers live by those rules and then there are those who unfortunately do not. 🙁 I have never even thought about checking my own work, nor did I know there was a way to do that until recently. As always, appreciate your well-informed posts – I continue to learn so much!

  2. I believe, if you see some clever turn of phrase of mine, or I make a point you feel is ‘spot on’, feel free to use it as your own.

  3. It has always been my belief that excellent writing
    such as this takes researching and also talent.
    It’s quite obvious you have carried out your homework. Good job!

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