Words Wisely Chosen: But Are They Yours?

By: Marilyn L. Davis

“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 Péguy, Basic Verities, Prose, and Poetry

When You Cannot Deliver, Dash Off a Few Darlings

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, simply 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 rip off another writer.

Sites want Original Content, Not a Cut and Paste

I have read articles that I know are a composite or merging from several writers.  We all use language in ways that are particular to our writing style: specific words, sentences, and paragraphs sound like us. words 2

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 justify this practice as “I just have it on my computer for inspiration” and then create a composite page. I refer to these 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 together 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 illegally borrow from another. 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.

Patch Writing Is Also an Issue

The Urban Dictionary defines patch writing 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).  It is every bit as dishonest as cutting and pasting without a link,  attribution or credit to the source.

Outright Plagiarism

Plagiarism defeats your purpose in claiming to be a writer.  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 find 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.  It’s important that you protect your original writings. If they’re found on multiple sites without permission or credit, it can adversely affect on your ratings.

 

Ups and Downs of Ratings

Our ratings fluctuate with how often something shows up in searches.  If I think I am only writing for one site, and then my work shows up elsewhere in a cut and paste manner, my reputation suffers.

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

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

Tag line: Two Drops of Ink: The Literary Home for Collaborative Writing 

 

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