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Writing Coincidences Really Do Happen

duplicateno2When I was writing about copyright recently I didn’t expect to have an example about how two bloggers can have the same idea so soon, and with my partner, Lori Widmer  in the 5 Buck Forum!

First, go look at my 5 Times A Freelance Writer Should Say ‘NO!’ To A ClientNow look at the image on the left. That’s a screen shot from the post Lori put up on AboutWritingSquared today! (I did the screen shot because as we post more blogs this one will get pushed down. It’s premium content, which means you’ll have to join to read the whole thing.)

It’s as if we were reading each other’s minds.

How writing coincidences happen

How does this happen? Because ideas can’t be copyrighted and ideas are in the air.

Saying ‘no’ to writing clients is a common issue among freelance writers and I suspect if I did a search of Lori’s blog I’d find this wasn’t the only time she’d written about it. Nor will it be, I suspect, the last. It’s a worthy topic.

My post is neither the first nor the last time writing about saying no to clients either.

Okay, but what about the graphic? It comes from Creative Commons and one of two things happened – either Lori found the same graphic. – or I uploaded it to the wrong blog and she found it in the AboutWritingSquared graphic library. It doesn’t matter, it could happen to anyone and it’s a great picture for both articles.

Now, if I’d found this post this week on a blog that had been written by someone I don’t know well, I might have thought they ripped off the idea, and the graphic would have increased my angst.

But I know Lori and have for years. She’s had my back all the way, as I’ve had hers. I know in my heart and down to my toes she did not rip  me or my idea off! Period.

Sure we try to read each other’s blogs regularly, but we’re both short on time – I can’t tell you how many of her posts I’ve missed.

The problem with jumping to conclusions

Off and on I’ve heard other bloggers say they’ve been ripped off for ideas by other bloggers. I’m sure it happens, but I’ve wanted a way to point out that it may not be so. Some may call me a Pollyanna, but unless the content is scraped or exactly the same, I don’t suspect the worst.

Unwittingly Lori has given me the perfect opportunity to demonstrate that coincidences really do happen. If we’d planned… but we didn’t.

(I just got an email from her offering to change the graphic, and it turns out I did upload it to the wrong directory. I’m begging her not to…)

Okay, so what’s your reaction to all this? Tell us in comments.


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{ 13 comments… add one }
  • I am feeling hungry right now. Is anybody feeling hungry too?
    Ron C. | SEO Copywriting recently posted..The Future Of Internet MarketingMy Profile

  • Warda

    Yeah, coincidence happen not only in writing.
    Warda recently posted..How to Spend Your Money Wisely in Online Internet BusinessMy Profile

  • Hi,

    Coincidences happen!

    Ideas are just that, ideas. You know what they say, “Great minds think alike.” When ideas float around in the air, writers are bound to write about the same thing, even on the same day.
    Amandah recently posted..Bad Content Writing? How to Tell if Your Content Writing Stinks — Break FreeMy Profile

    • Yep, Amandah, it happens more than many people think it does.

  • It doesn’t just happen with blog posts, but also with articles and book ideas as well. So often my clients are worried that someone will rip them off and I always repeat the same thing you said–it’s in the air! I love this story of coincidences as it is so illustrative of that point.

    • Yeah, I was glad I had the chance to really detail how it can happen… and I know it happens in books and magazines, etc. etc. etc. Thanks Charlotte.

  • Make that a triple coincidence My post on the same topic went up today too on Freelance Folder. 🙂 (It’s actually a post that I submitted on March 12th, but they just posted it today.)

    To tell you the truth, though, this is a common topic in the freelance community. I’ve written about saying “no” before and I know others have too. In my post, I reference my earlier posts (which were actually my original inspiration), but I tried to take it from a different angle this time.
    Laura Spencer recently posted..Book Review: The Freelancer’s BibleMy Profile

    • It’s almost like someone blew a whistle and declared ‘no’ the topic for March. Congrats on freelance folder submission.

  • This is one of those cases where I should have taken the time to check Anne’s site, Misti. 🙂 I had seen the artwork in our shared gallery on AWS, and I knew I hadn’t seen it there in a while, so I thought “I’ll just use this.”

    That should have been my first clue. Alas, I was tired and it had been a day of constant interruptions.

    That said, I have had blog posts lifted nearly verbatim. Not just the topic (which is much more common and almost always coincidental), but right down to the number of points or subheads. I know there are a few out there who think rewriting someone else’s original work is fine. It’s not. If it happens often enough, it shows lack of originality by the lifter, and it pretty much shouts amateur or worse, unscrupulous.

    Luckily, my post was at least a different focus than Anne’s. But since we’re working together, I suspect we are on a similar wavelength. 🙂
    Lori recently posted..Marketing and Your ImageMy Profile

    • Lori, I don’t know why you should have looked at my site first… I sure don’t look at yours before I write something… and yes, we often are on the same wave length.

  • My reaction is that coincidences happen. ^_^

    I post regularly once a week, on Thursdays. It’s pretty usual for some other writer whose blog I follow to have related a blog post the selfsame day—without either of us reading the others’, verifiable because the posts will be written before the other even posts. I therefore tend to double-check acquaintances’ blogs on Thursday morning and update my post with a link to any related posts.

    There was one rather amusing time when Jami Gold and I both got asked the same question, the same day, by two different commenters. (And neither of us get all that many comments on our blogs.) And when we answered—before we’d read the other’s post—our posts ended up being complementary.

    Those times I actually do get inspired by someone’s blog post to continue on the same topic, I be sure to give credit where it’s due.

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