Freelance and professional writers regularly build up libraries of prior work over time. Each project usually includes writing, drafts, research, notes and more to produce the final product sold. Savvy writers have learned how to leverage this library of work without compromising their prior material or violating copyrights now owned by another party. Leveraging saves time, makes it easier to produce new work, and makes the writer more efficient overall.
One of the aspects of writing that can take the longest to perform tends to be finding the correct research material. However, once a topic has been written about at least once, most good writers will have performed that task adequately and saved the related files. There’s no sense in throwing all that work away if it can be relied upon again for a new project with a related topic. Unless in the form that it was sold in the original final product, all research can be used again for new articles. This saves significant work time and allows a writer to quickly find what’s needed for the next project.
Many writers also categorize their prior work for easy reference and re-use for new clients. The files can be sorted by topic category, by date of production, or project type — whatever works best for the individual writer.
Rewrite Versus Entirely New
There’s no question that once an article has been written and the rights sold, it’s technically a copyright violation to use the same work again, word-for-word, without the original party knowing. Not only is this bad business, it can get a writer sued if the original party wanted to go to the trouble of doing so.
However, professional writers also know how to take an old work and reshape it into an entirely new one. This skill is particularly apparent in analysis, where a good writer can craft two analyses completely opposed to each other using the same research. This sort of skill again allows a writer to generate new work from old material without violating any copyrights. In many cases, it saves significant time versus entirely creating new work.
From Article to Book to Bigger
A more common leverage that occurs tends to be the transition from articles to a book. Many writers save their prior material to eventually rewrite and repackage similar concepts into a new book. As long as the final version is new work versus the old, word-for-word, the results allow professional writers to enter new markets with larger projects. This can be in ghostwriting or outright publication of their own large projects. Either way, all the previous hard work generates into a new, larger project from the original material written.
Long story short, good writers don’t throw their work away after selling it. They recycle, rewrite, and reform it into new products and new material. This skill makes them more efficient and more productive.
Tom L is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.