Originality Is Overrated: Why Specificity Is The Secret To Legendary Writing

Nicolas Cole
3 min readAug 3, 2021
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Originality is overrated.

The advice to “be original” is just a different way of saying “be authentic,” which are both vague ways of saying “be yourself,” which is akin to giving the guidance of breathing. “Just breathe,” says an inspirational quote on Instagram, somewhere.

This advice is meaningless.

When writers give this advice, they don’t actually know what they’re saying.

They’re just waving their arms around in the air, hoping to get your attention.

Instead of thinking “How can I be original?” or “How can be authentic?” it’s much more productive to ask, “How can I be more specific?” Specificity means having a deeper understanding of what the reader really wants. Specificity means being explicit about why you’re saying what you’re saying — and what outcome can or should be generated as a result.

Specificity is clarity, and clarity is all that matters.

For example:

• “You should write every day” is vague advice. More specificity here would be, “When you write every day, you are actively practicing the habit of keeping promises to yourself…



Nicolas Cole

100M+ Views | 5x Author | Co-founder of Ship 30 for 30 | Want to start writing online? Get the Ultimate Guide: https://startwritingonline.com