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What makes you unique?


If there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s this. Every single person on this planet is unique. I’m going to wager that you agree.

Then why do we get stumped when we are asked to document what makes us unique as writers? It should be easy. After all, it’s us we’re talking about.

I’ve found myself stumped by that question. Unable to come up with more than a line or two about why clients should choose me to write copy for their website or brochure. I’ll bet you have too.

So, here’s the thing. Sometimes it’s easier to begin with all the things—no matter how offbeat or significant they seem—that make you unique as a person. What experiences have you had that are a bit different from that of your friends or family? Your list should include highlights and lowlights.

Here are some of the things on my list:

• Drove my own car around the Indy 500 racetrack. (I’m from Indy, after all!)
• Lived in Italy for a year-and-a-half as an Army wife.
• Received the Betty Crocker Homemaker of the Year award in high school. (Betty’s probably turning in her grave at that one!)
• Volunteer as a feral cat colony mistress.
• Was among a handful of women in the Indianapolis marketplace who purchased and sold metals (copper, stainless steel, etc.) for the construction business.
• Won Purdue’s Kneale Award for best history paper of the year.
• Grew up on a farm and spent time summers at my grandma’s tobacco farm.
• Have no sense of direction whatsoever, and couldn’t even find my way back to the place I grew up without consulting a map. (Not that it would help. Can’t read those either!)

Right around now you’re probably thinking, these could be great ice breakers at an event, but what do all (or any of) these things have to do with writing?

This is an exercise that engages your mind and gets it rolling in the right direction. (I am not a fan of exercises, so I’m not labeling it that, however.) You’ve started the momentum. Now all you have to do is direct it.

None of the things above are on my list of what makes me unique as a writer. (Although if I were talking to a client in the metals or construction business, I might mention that fact.)

But once you start thinking about the things that make you unique as a person, it’s a quick (and painless) leap to what makes you the wonderful writer you are. Even better, since you have reached back to concrete things you know and ACCEPT to be true (like my lack of sense of direction) it makes it easier to own your writer-ly traits as they pop into your consciousness.

What makes me unique as a writer? Lots of things.

• I meet deadlines.
• I go the extra mile.
• I’m capable of explaining complex concepts (medical or technology-based) clearly to the layperson.
• I’m very detail-oriented. (I was a technical writer before writing for media and copywriting.)
• My grammar basics are better than most.
• I’m good at interviewing people.
• Etc.

I’ll bet you’re saying: I’m good at those things too. That’s great. I hope you are. But not every item on my completed list will be the same as yours. And the emphasis will be different.

What makes you unique as a writer is the combination of all the things on your list, and how much weight each carries. Add in a few highlights, special experiences and passions, and you’ve got what makes you unique as a writer.

Don’t forget to add to it as you develop new skills and experiences!

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