7 Ways to Avoid Plagiarizing in Your Work

In the previous blog post about plagiarism, we provide a primer or 101 lesson in the act. In this post, we will give you 7 tips to avoid plagiarizing in your work.

  1. Plagiarism includes images, video, and music. All need to be properly credited as in stating who the songwriter is in sharing music, or the producer is with video, and credit the owners of images you use in your work, including on social media. You will find that some images, video, and music will not require attribution, but check to be certain.
  2. Use quotation marks when using more than two words from a written piece and cite the author.
  3. Paraphrase something and make sure you cite the original author. For example, instead of using a direct quote, write the words in your own way, but make sure you share where you found that information.
  4. Plagiarism includes lifting and stealing ideas. If you are using an idea that you found somewhere else, simply give credit where credit is due.
  5. Understand that while facts cannot be held to the rules of plagiarism, the words used to express those facts can be held to the rules of copyright infringement.
  6. In works of fiction, check direct quotes by other authors and orators; make sure your story idea and its execution is not exactly the same as someone else’s work; and  look for similar titles and storylines on Amazon.
  7. Always remember that just because you found it on the internet, it is not always free for your use. Before using information, images, etc., make sure you can identify the author and owner, and then give them the appropriate credit.

There is so much to remember in regard to copyright infringement and plagiarism, which is why using a site like Plagiarism.org is highly recommended.

A Primer in Plagiarism

By now you’ve heard the story of how out-of-work journalist, Jarrett Hill, was the first to discover that Melania Trump’s RNC speech ‘borrowed’ heavily from first lady Michelle Obama’s speech to the DNC in 2008. Many of us were introduced to plagiarism as the media used the word to describe what Hill discovered. The website Plagiarism.org offers extensive information on the topic, but we’re going to provide you with a primer below.

What is plagiarism?

According to Merriam-Webster online, plagiarism means “the act of using another person’s words or ideas without giving credit to that person: the act of plagiarizing something.”

Why is it punishable by law?

Plagiarism is an act of fraud. When you steal or lift passages of information or written content from someone without their permission and fail to cite that it is their work, it is fraud. You are passing something off as your own.

Plagiarism.org states the following:

ALL OF THE FOLLOWING ARE CONSIDERED PLAGIARISM:

  • turning in someone else’s work as your own
  • copying words or ideas from someone else without giving credit
  • failing to put a quotation in quotation marks
  • giving incorrect information about the source of a quotation
  • changing words but copying the sentence structure of a source without giving credit
  • copying so many words or ideas from a source that it makes up the majority of your work, whether you give credit or not (see our section on “fair use” rules)

Why is plagiarism important?

Plagiarism is stealing. Plagiarism can be costly. Plagiarism is lazy work. Yes, plagiarism can be inadvertent, but thankfully there are sites like WriteCheck.com and Grammarly.com that can help writers avoid committing the act of plagiarism.

Hope this primer helps. We’ve included links and the proper attribution to avoid plagiarism too. In fact, this information is posted on Plagiarism.org’s site.

REPRINT & USAGE RIGHTS:

In the interest of disseminating this information as widely as possible, plagiarism.org grants all reprint and usage requests without the need to obtain any further permission as long as the URL of the original article/information is cited.

Plagiarism.org does not permit the creation of derivative works based on site content. 

8 Black Writers’ Quotes about Writing

Writing is not a solitary journey though there are times it feels that way. The inspiration required to keep going and finish is immeasurable. Sometimes it’s not enough for family and friends to cheer us on; we need to hear what the accomplished ones have to say too. Below are the musings of 8 black writers on writing. Be inspired and encouraged.

“Deliver me from writers who say the way they live doesn’t matter. I’m not sure a bad person can write a good book. If art doesn’t make us better, then what on earth is it for.”  Alice Walker

“Look at what’s happening in this world. Every day there’s something exciting or disturbing to write about. With all that’s going on, how could I stop?”  Gwendolyn Brooks

“Some critics will write ‘Maya Angelou is a natural writer’ – which is right after being a natural heart surgeon.” Maya Angelou

“We write because we believe the human spirit cannot be tamed and should not be trained.” Nikki Giovanni

“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”  Toni Morrison

“I don’t know how to write. I just do it.” J. California Cooper

“When you’re writing first person, all I can see and tell as the author is what that main character can see.” Pearl Cleage

“The symbiotic relationship between reading and writing is a cornerstone of our individual intellectual journey and our educational system. We write as an act of self-expression. We read because language renders unto us the vitality of real and imagined experience.” Marita Golden

3 Tips for a Great Instagram Feed

Instagram is not a mystery. We make it a mystery because on the surface all we see are photographs and memes. But there is a lot more to it, especially if you’re an author or writer. Here are three basic tips to creating a great Instagram feed.

  1. Be interesting. You have hobbies, recreational activities, and interests that match other Instagram users’ interests. Share photos of your garden, your knitting, the pastries you bake or the products you love.
  2. Tell a story of you without selfies. You don’t have to share selfies to tell a story about you and your book or product. Take a shot of that blank computer screen when you have writer’s block. Snap a photo of your feet reclining on your lounger or sofa to tell the story of a special moment of relaxation.
  3. Share what you love. Post photos of a work of art that moves you. A book that you love. That special coffee blend you buy. People love knowing that someone else shares their loves too.

Instagram hashtags are many, so research a few in their search engine or online. Also, think beyond your existing audience to attract a wider one using visual imagery on Instagram. Instagram is a great tool for continuing your marketing efforts without having to always promote your work. Use it as a supplement.

 

4 Books Every Writer Should Own

By now you already own a dictionary and thesaurus, but there are four other books essential to writing. Each serves its own purpose and each can be a great resource. Also, each has an online relative linked below.

The Elements of Style, William Strunk, Jr.
Asserting that one must first know the rules to break them, this classic reference book is a must-have for any student and conscientious writer. Intended for use in which the practice of composition is combined with the study of literature, it gives in brief space the principal requirements of plain English style and concentrates attention on the rules of usage and principles of composition most commonly violated.

Associated Press Stylebook
Newspapers and magazines have their own set of rules to follow in writing. Knowing those rules will enable you to sell an article or write a press release.

The Christian Writer’s Manual of Style
An essential tool for writers, editors, proofreaders, designers, copywriters, production managers, and marketers too. The Christian Writer’s Manual of Style is an essential tool not only for writers of religious materials, but for their editors, proofreaders, designers, copywriters, production managers, and even marketers.

The Writer’s Market
This has been an invaluable tool for writers for many years. They have a market book for songwriting, children’s books, poetry, and book publishing. Great resource.

Writing the story is easy, but mastering the elements of writing takes great work and knowledge. These books should either be on a shelf in your home office or available to you as an app. Do you have a resource to share? Please do in the comments.

15 Snacks for Focus, Concentration and Energy to Write

Eating heavy foods while trying to write or do something requiring our rapt attention can be counterproductive. There a few snacks you can nosh on while writing that are nutritious, tasty, and good for your brain (focus, concentration, and energy).

  1. Almonds
  2. Bananas
  3. Beets
  4. Blueberries
  5. Broccoli
  6. Celery
  7. Dark Chocolate
  8. Green Tea
  9. Kale Chips
  10. Pumpkin Seeds
  11. Spinach
  12. Sunflower Seeds
  13. Turmeric Tea
  14. Walnuts
  15. Water

The beauty of these snacks is that you can eat them individually or together. Try to eat the veggies raw as in a light salad with an oil dressing (no sugar), and lemon. All contain anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. And they all boost energy, focus and concentration.

Most importantly, they are low in calories, which is great for those of us who sit for long hours.

Books for Creatives You Should Read Now

Are you a creative who needs some inspiration? Instead of picking up a novel, pick up one or more of the following books to stir those juices and unleash your creative energy.

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield identifies the enemy that every one of us must face, outlines a battle plan to conquer this internal foe, then pinpoints just how to achieve the greatest success. [Excerpt]

It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again by Julia Cameron (The Artist’s Way) In It’s Never Too Late To Begin Again, she turns her eye to a segment of the population that, ironically, while they have more time to be creative, are often reluctant or intimidated by the creative process. Cameron shows readers that retirement can, in fact, be the most rich, fulfilling, and creative time of their lives.

Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon is a (book) list of the 10 things the author wishes he’d learned about being creative when he was younger. The things no one tells you.

Evil Plans & Ignore Everybody by Hugh MacLeod – two books that are about not only being creative but being successful at it.

Make it Mighty Ugly by Kim Werker –  It’s filled with essays, exercises, anecdotes, links, quotes and a bibliography to help you fight the demons that keep you from being creative and making stuff. 

The Little Spark by Carrie Bloomston – The book is chock-full of concrete, hands-on tips that can help the newbie develop habits of creativity by making things and then making some more things, the principle of repetition (spark #23).

Press into becoming the creative you long to be or once were by reading one of the above books. If you’ve already read any of the above, please leave a comment below.