3 Ways You Can Reuse Your Writing
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3 Ways You Can Reuse Your Writing

Building A Quality Writing Portfolio Fast

3 Ways You Can Reuse Your Writing

Professional writers have to work fast.

I don’t mean they have to give up quality and write everything quickly, but they do need to recognize writing is a business as well as an art form.

Businesses typically want to create quality work quickly as possible to achieve the most success.

Therefore, professional writers must learn to create lots of quality published work in the shortest time possible.

One excellent technique writers can do this is to reuse material – take past articles, essays, or other content and re-sell them in another form or publication.

This saves a great deal of work, since the material already exists in some form, and with practice can lead to consistently successful results.

Crime writer Raymond Chandler performed this technique particularly well. Although Chandler only finished seven novels before his death, these books influenced many writers and critics consider several of them to be masterpieces. His best-known work, “The Big Sleep” appeared in both Newsweek and TIME's lists of the 100 greatest novels ever written.

As Toby Widdicombe noted in his book “The Readers’ Guide to Raymond Chandler," Chandler created novels by “cannibalizing” his earlier work, using material from short stories he had already sold to magazines.

This seems like cheating, but it was actually resourceful. Chandler knew the story ideas would work, because he had already sold them to someone. He just had to expand and develop those ideas into a new form.

So, one clever trick to being a successful writer is simply to be a “good cannibal.”

Reuse your work in different forms.

Here are three things that will help you be a “good cannibal.”

1. Keep Old Resources

Instead of using articles, quotes or other research once and forgetting it, keep those things on file. You’ll probably find you can use them again -- especially if you keep writing about a topic.

For example, I write many articles about misconceptions Christians have about art (movies, music, painting, books) and about artists in general.

I’ve read eight or nine different books and various articles on this topic, and I routinely find sources I used in a previous article can be used to explain something I’m writing about now.

Other times, the sources I’ve read may have something I never used before which will really help with what I’m currently writing.

So I reuse those sources whenever I can.

2. Look for Publications that Offer First Rights

First Rights or First Serial Rights is a publishing term that refers to when a publisher only buys the right to publish a piece once. The author can then sell the piece to any other publication he or she chooses, without getting in trouble because the copyright has reverted back to the author.

This technique has really helped me build my writing portfolio.

As a freelance book reviewer, I’ve reviewed a handful of books so far.

Every one of those reviews has been published by two or three different publications.

Each time counts, so I’ve had over sixteen book reviews published in two years.

3. Look for Opportunities

Even if you aren’t writing for publications with first rights, there are plenty of loopholes where you can recycle material. It’s often just about looking in nooks and crannies for the right opportunities.

For example, last year I wrote an informative speech for a public speaking class. I built the speech around research I’d found on Christian art – which I’d been blogging about for some time already.

I then presented the speech in the public speaking class.

Later I presented the same speech in another class, where it was also relevant.

Then I rewrote the speech as an editorial and sent it to my university’s student newspaper.

I also made the original speech available on my blog.

Reusing material seems like cheating at first. However, it allows writers to work smart and build a portfolio quickly without sacrifing quality.

Know any helpful tricks to starting a writing career? Comment about them below, I'd love to hear your thoughts

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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