One of the unfortunate beliefs that keep many writers and creative types from creating is the belief that if something has already been done, it shouldn’t be done again. My own writing has been thwarted on numerous occasions by such thinking. There have been times where I’ve had a working title for a book project but found a published book by the exact title with the same content or ideas I was hoping to cover. Such moments stop me in my tracks. I never begin the research and often lose the desire to engage the content altogether. Why write about a topic if it has already been said by others? I believe there are some important reasons to do so.
One of my favorite books in the Bible is Ecclesiastes. I find so much hope in knowing I’m not the only one who, at times, feels like my efforts are for nothing. Throughout the book, the author shares some honest thoughts about the nature of life. One such thought is: “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). I find the verse encouraging because, if nothing is truly new, I can let go of the pressure to produce something groundbreaking.
The reality is, content you write today will be written again by someone tomorrow. It has probably already been written by someone before you. There is nothing new under the sun. Being faithful to God and encouraging others is more important than being on the cutting edge of a given topic.
You can write about a topic others have covered while making a valuable contribution to the kingdom. Your style is different than others. Your perspective on life is different than others. You may share truth in a way that resonates with someone that, if said differently, would amount to very little. Your writing and unique perspective can bring glory to God even when the topic has already been and will continue to be discussed by others.
The Value of Repetition
A few years ago, my wife and I attended a Loud Harp concert. If you’ve never listened to their music, I’d highly recommend it. During the performance, they talked about the repetition of their lyrics. Their songs tend to repeat, allowing the listener to soak in biblical truths. The reason for the repetition, they claimed, was because people (themselves included) are prone to forget and wander away from the truth of Scripture. We all need reminders of God’s amazing work on our behalf. We all need to hear the gospel message again and again.
Writing can provide those needed reminders. It’s totally okay to share the same message multiple times. Because there are more people who have not read your writing than those who have, the probability of reaching someone new with the gospel or a truth from Scripture is very high. Furthermore, just because another writer has already said it does not mean your audience reads that particular writer. Of course, we should always cite our sources and give credit where credit is due. Yet, we all have our own sphere of influence. Each writer has a unique voice and readership. Each writer brings something different to the conversation.
It feels silly to say, but I often keep myself from writing because I’m convinced I can only say things once. Sometimes, I don’t know how to say something better than I already did. Have you ever experienced that? My hunch is, if we discuss a topic over and over, we will tease out deeper truths and say it with more clarity. It drives my wife crazy when I do this in conversation, but I think it’s important to be as clear as possible.
Repetition is not a problem. It’s important for writers and creative types to share similar thoughts on a variety of issues. Don’t let the writing of someone else about a given topic stop you from adding your own unique voice to the conversation. God has uniquely created you. He’s called and wired you to write. He’s gifted you. Tell us about what God is teaching you, even if it’s been said before.