Based in Noblesville, Indiana, Curtis writes the syndicated humor column, Grammar Guy. His hilarious-yet-thoughtful book will be available in May 2020.

Write Like You've Got Competition

Write Like You've Got Competition

Photo by  Marvin Meyer  on  Unsplash

Photo by Marvin Meyer on Unsplash

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.

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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