Based in Noblesville, Indiana, Curtis writes the syndicated humor column, Grammar Guy. He also likes to write for startups.

Write Like You've Got Competition

Write Like You've Got Competition

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A couple of months ago, I applied for a writing gig on Upwork. I didn’t get the job, which isn’t unusual. For every ten proposals I send, I get maybe three or four jobs. But, shortly after I found out I wasn’t picked, I got a message from the posting client, who informed me I was his “second pick”. He wanted to know if he could pay me a lesser amount to complete the assignment and that he’d consider my script as a “backup”.

Knowing I was now writing alongside some other writer who was the “first pick”, I decided I wanted to wipe the floor with the other writer. I wanted to be the VHS to his Betamax. The smartphone to his pay phone. The Netflix to his Blockbuster.

...the only thing that would set me apart from the other writer was an idea that only I could write.

I went for a brainstorming walk around the neighborhood and shuffled through the Rolodex of all possible good ideas in my head. I quickly realized the only thing that would set me apart from the other writer was an idea that only I could write.

When I got home, I grabbed my laptop and wrote like mad. I submitted the script, which I knew wouldn’t be anything like the other guy’s, and, wouldn’t you know it, the client picked my script. Not only that, but the client paid me the “first pick” price. I was now the proud writer of a radio commercial script for a Florida real estate company.

The commercial isn’t finished yet, otherwise, I would post it here. But that’s not the point. The point is, when faced with competition, my writing leveled up. I wrote in a way only I could. I distinguished myself from the other guy with a voice that was uniquely mine. Now I write like I have competition every time I write. I picture the other guy at his laptop writing something very good. And then I write something better.
 

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