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I am a blogger and sometimes I find articles with similar content or an idea coincidentally similar as mine which is not published at the time of reading that similar article but which I have written as draft already.

Then I worry that whether my article will look original or not. I know it's too broad and often irrelevant to think that way because only a few similar lines in a different context or a similarity of topic of writing or some similarity in writing on a topic which is also similar to the one I have already written bother me.

However, my question is what would you do as a writer and blogger if you find coincidentally similar work published by someone else before publishing your own work.

This question has become an anxiety before publishing anything and has lessened my blogging too.

I write non-fiction and poetry mainly. My question is about fiction and non fiction both.

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    The other answers get to the core of things. But the thing you need to keep in mind is this: There are ideas and there is implementation. Everyone can have an idea about anything… But few ever implement these ideas let alone do so in a competent way. If you are paralyzed about being considered unoriginal, think about Starbucks: When they started did they say to themselves, “Their are tons of places that sell coffee, why should we think were are original?” Yet, lo and behold they created a chain coffee shop experience that was like no other and now dominate the market. So keep on keeping on! – JakeGould Feb 19 '18 at 2:32
  • @JakeGould Thanks! Apart from idea its implementation does matter. Important point to remember. – mohinip Feb 19 '18 at 13:23
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Don't worry - everything has been done before; just try to be yourself

Your goal shouldn't be to be the only one to ever blog about something. This is especially true for fiction as there are only a handful of basic plots in existence and the main goal of an author is to provide a new version, telling the story in his own words.

But this also applies to non-fiction. There are many people with similar interests and therefore whenever there is something new people will interact with it and report about it, for example on their blog. If you were the only one who was interested in the topic then probably nobody would ever want to read about your stuff. If there are lots of people who might want to read about something then there are likely lots of people who might want to write about that thing.

If you find something similar analyze it - and make yours as unique as possible

If I found something that is very similar to something you have made a draft about then you can analyze what you have found. See what it talks about mainly, what it talks about only superficially. See how long it is.

And then try to figure out whether you want to talk about it the same way. Do you think some important things didn't get the attention they deserve? Write about them. Maybe even link to the other article if you don't want to talk about the same points extensively as the other author. Try to figure out which parts should be left out. See whether you want to write a more condensed article or a more in-depth article. And above all: use your own words. Some people like articles that read like everyday speech. Some people like articles that sounds scholarly. Some people like jokes, some people hate them. Some people prefer examples, some prefer theoretically analyzing things.

Find what you and your readers prefer and give everything your personal twist. Then it doesn't matter whether someone talks about something similar. Your articles might simply appeal to another audience. One that is more like you and less like the other author - whether that is about the choice of words, language, emphasis on certain parts, having more or less links to other sources, examples, just being more accessible because they know you and your blog from some other topic, ... depends on what you want and what the exact topic is.

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    OMG I was going to write something very similar to this, now I can't ever answer another question! :-( :-( :-( :-( :-( :-( :-( :-( – Amadeus-Reinstate-Monica Feb 18 '18 at 11:21
  • Thank you for discussing different aspects of the writing process. I think I was broadly focusing on similarity instead of the distinction I already have and further possibilities to enhance my piece. – mohinip Feb 18 '18 at 12:24
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    @mohinip It's great that my answer helped and of course you are free to accept any answer you wish at any point. But as a tip, as this is your first post on Writing, it's recommended to wait at least 24 hours before accepting as there often is not one "correct" answer. Others might be discouraged from answering if they think you found your solution. Waiting a bit may potentially increase the amount of answers you get and the amount of discussions under existing answers, which may increase the answer quality. Just a tip. – Sec SE - clear Monica's name Feb 18 '18 at 12:33
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Finding something truly unique on the Web is pretty rare. What you find far more often are a hundred different ways of saying the same thing. Even on Stack Exchange, which goes to considerable pains to detect and eliminate duplicate questions, multiple instances of essentially the same question abound. In fact, if I bothered to look I am sure I could find multiple versions of this very question right on this site.

Does this matter? Actually, I think it is a good thing. A lot of the time questions get marked as duplicates on Stack Exchange because someone finds another question with the same answer. But having the same answer is not the same as being the same question. A question is made of words and even if the words amount to the same thing, what a person recognizes, what they can search for, is the particular words that occur to them when they ask the question. Having twenty different versions of a question, all with the same answer, means that there are twenty ways to find that answer. And that is a good thing. It makes it more likely that each searcher will find what they are looking for.

The Web acts like a filter. It really does not matter that there is a huge amount of duplication on the Web because search engines find the best versions of every question and every answer and bring the to the forefront. It is the ultimate social proof, separating the wheat from the chaff. (Is it a perfect filter? Obviously not. Have we a better one? No.)

The Web is so huge that you cannot ever guarantee that what you are writing occurs nowhere else on the Web. But that does not matter. Your job is not to ensure that you are absolutely original all the time. Your job is to produce the best version of your argument on your subject matter available. If yours is the best version, the Web will filter it forward. If it is not a good version, the Web will filter it back into the vast collection of content that nobody sees.

Given that the Web works this way, spending your time trying to make sure no one has ever said what you want to say is not a productive use of your time. Instead, focus on saying it as well as it can possibly be said for whatever particular audience you have in mind. If what you write is the best available to meet the needs of that particular audience, the Web will bring it to the fore.

  • Thank you for elaborating how web works as a filter. While I was overly stressed by the thought of similar content I hadn't thought that a lot of that time could be spent in making my work better. – mohinip Feb 19 '18 at 13:41
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Don't Worry, and Don't Steal.

If it is similar, don't worry about it. Approximately one billion articles have been written and published about the implications of various findings of Robert Mueller's investigation into Trump's campaign, and it may surprise you to learn the ideas, projections and predictions presented in those articles are not 100% unique.

We all like to think we are unique: A trait not unique at all! The truth is, we writers would not have an industry if our audiences were not pretty uniform in their experiences, reactions, and expectations to stories. We are quite similar in that regard, it is why one book by Rowling or Brown can sell tens or hundreds of millions of copies: Those readers are not at all unique in what they find entertaining.

This is also why we can have schools that teach a million random kids how to add or be lawyers, why we have a language at all, or art, it is how newscasts and talk shows reliably know what will interest viewers: We are not that unique!

Go ahead, give your take on it, and don't worry that your idea is similar. What counts and is original is your "voice". The details of how you order your argument and the facts, the words, the sentence structures you use. Pick ten articles about the same damn thing, and chances are you can judge them and rank them. What makes one the best and another the worst? Presentation and choices in the details.

There are thousands of paintings that are portraits of women, but there is a most famous and compelling one: The Mona Lisa, from 1503. Definitely not the most beautiful woman ever painted, definitely not salacious in the least, but still by most measures (prints, views, $ value, etc) the most admired and celebrated as perfection. I don't think Leonardo Da Vinci worried that other artists had also painted portraits of women with a landscape background.

Don't Steal.

If it has anything particularly impressive or insightful or clever or admirable in it (be honest with yourself), do not steal it.

Feel free to quote it, link to it, or reference it. Give credit where credit is due: If you did not think of it, or would not have phrased it the same but now think their phrasing was best, then let them have it. That is what is original about their writing, not the vague idea you both had that "if X, then Y", but how they argue it and phrase it and prove that point.

That is what you should not copy. Find your own "voice".

  • Thank you for insightful reply. Helped me to see my worries in a meaningful direction. – mohinip Feb 19 '18 at 10:49
  • My comment got posted accidentally before typing it completely. Here's the complete comment. Thank you for insightful reply. Helped me to take my worries in a meaningful direction. I try to careful about not repeating someone else's expression. The worry arises when I have written something already with well thought articulation and I see similar write up somewhere else, especially when I haven't published my post yet. Of course it's not stealing but I fear how it may look and how much should I change my article in order to avoid similarity. – mohinip Feb 19 '18 at 10:57

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