Monday, December 8, 2008

Eerie Writing Experience

"The bees pillage the flowers here and there but they make honey of them which is all their own; it is no longer thyme or marjolaine: so the pieces borrowed from others he will transform and mix up into a work all his own."—Michael Eyquen de Montaigne

Busy writer bees Google key words to find "original" writing ideas. I researched holiday blues and depression so I could write an article for my solo parenting blog, www.courageoussingleparenting.blogspot.com. Then today I picked up a magazine and read an article about holiday depression. The words sounded eerily familiar. From the three triggers that cause holiday depression to other points, the article sounded just like my research. I could even underline familiar lines that I recall reading. So much for a photographic memory. It was a strange feeling to think that the writer may have researched the topic on Google and then cut and pasted together a "new" article.

Beyond Google

I use Google to jumpstart my creative process, read what's already been written and learn from experts. However, this article sounded neither new nor fresh. If you rely on Google searches for research, here are a few tips to avoid plagiarism.

  1. Write using your own voice and your experiences. Do not cut and paste other people's voices and stories.
  2. Quote others. Link to their article. But please avoid regurgitating other's viewpoints or phrases. What do you think or believe about the topic? Share it.
  3. Do not copy and paste a quote and then substitute words using your Thesaurus. Read the information, and then say it aloud in your own words. Now write it.
  4. Give credit where credit is due.
  5. When you paraphrase keep the facts and content in context.
  6. Run your copy through http://www.plagiarismchecker.com. It will identify whether you've accidentally copied from the Internet. Plagiarism Checker can also help you find out whether someone has plagiarized your work and posted it to the Internet.

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