Monday, November 03, 2008

Arthur Mee, on Freelance Writing

This is a subject I have trouble with, but am beginning to overcome:
"Everything has been Done." The population of greater London is seven millions: how many articles, one wonders, are there in that fact? How many books have been written out of it? It is a fact that everybody knows, yet it is a fact that can be written about by a thousand men in different ways, or by one man in a thousand ways, without ever wearying us or driving us to say "I knew that before." There is nobody so hopeless as the man who discards a subject merely because "it has been done before." If the subject had any inherent interest yesterday, it has the same inherent interest to-day. There may, of course, be a hundred reasons why it need not be written about to-day, but the fact that it was written about yesterday is no reason at all.
Emphasis mine: some of my writer's block has been prolonged by the negative sentiment, "I just wrote about that a couple months ago" or "I read two or three blogs about that lately," but I need to remember that there's still plenty of people who haven't seen all the blogs or read all the magazines or owned all the books that I do. There's plenty of freelance work out there writing dreary, repetitive articles that have been seen a million times before, but people still read it. If the axiom above were not true, there would be far, far fewer fashion, housekeeping, and car magazines.

The snippet is from "The Freelance Journalist", itself an excerpt from The Harmsworth Self-Educator, written in the late 19th century.

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