In order to be a better writer I have to learn how to steal.
I am not going to be lifting paragraphs wholesale from the works of those who came before me and apply some make up. Viola - it's mine. No, I need to become comfortable taking ideas (with credit given, of course) and massaging them into my original work.
This won't work for all writers or everything I produce. It will do wonders for my Magic writing. And hey, better writing should mean more hits, right?
When I started writing, I was preoccupied with being original. I was the only person writing about Pauper Magic in any meaningful way so I was already unique. No, I told younger me, I needed to revolutionize the genre and do so with a severe limitation. Namely, I'm not an elite Magic player. I consider myself slightly above average (like, three hairs) but I still tried to make a splash. A lot of my earlier stuff is lost in a site redesign, but man I tried to break the mold.
You know why writers like Mike Flores, Pat Chapin, and Adrian Sullivan are behind a paywall? It's because they have changed the game and the way we understand it with their work. That is incredibly hard to do. Today, it is a greater challenge since so much discovery has already taken place. Now, it's Devil's Details.
Once I started writing for Star City, I stopped trying to shock the world. My writing suffered. I started out restrained- I revered my work place and did not want to despoil it. With the help of my editors (all three of them), the fetters are slowly coming off. This morning, however, I realized I was still shackling myself.
My desire to be original remains and this is impeding my ability to be achieve my next level as a writer. Instead of sidestepping the great works that have come before me, I need to use them, cite them, steal from them and weave their words into my own to add strength where I am weak.
I've started work on my next article, due to go live next week. Let's see if I can listen to my own advice.