Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Art of The Rewrite

As a freelance writer, not long after you start writing for a living, you will probably find yourself in a position where you need to rewrite your own work. The first time it happened to me was exciting. I had to do an assignment on something that I'd written about before and saved myself huge amounts of research time because I had a similar project I could draw from. This now happens to me regularly. I can use saved material to save research time and sometimes shave hours off a project.

But, it's almost an art to learn to effectively rewrite without self-plagiarizing. Clients want original content and if they don't get it, they won't be back for future projects. Some clients even pay me to spin articles a second and third way for article directories and I'm getting quite good at this.

Sometimes I get new projects where I get an opportunity to do rewrites of old projects and other times, I have to do that within the same project.

Don't Self-Plagiarize

This week I was faced with a situation that perplexed me at first. I had a client ask for fifty unique general articles about a topic but I wasn't allowed to be specific. Did you need to read that a second time? Yes, that's what they wanted.

I decided to write the first article and make sure it's what they wanted. Then, once I had the green light, I wrote the second as a rewrite. To rewrite a piece of material I first moved some paragraphs around so different ideas appeared at different places in the article and then did a rewrite so that I had almost none of the same words existed between the two articles. Although the meaning is similar, the words were different. Also, I was sure to add something fresh to the new article. Now that I'm ten articles into the project, I have several different styles so each new article results in me opening a random article and using that one to rewrite for the next one down the list. Number eleven might be used to rewrite number forty-two and number fifty might be a rewrite of article number three. The client will get fifty fairly unique articles (as much as can be done, really) and I
will save myself a bit of head scratching time.


BloggingWriter said...

Great technique, Dana. I'm learning a lot from your blog. It's always interesting to hear how another writer approaches things.

When I do rewrites I use a similar technique, but I don't usually have to do them in batches of 50!

Dana Prince said...

LOL, Bloggingwriter.
I don't usually have 50 either. I'm at about the 1/3 mark on that one and am running out of spin. Fresh eyes and fresh coffee tomorrow morning will help me though.