Writing is easier the second time around

Writing is easier the second time around By Bob Karolevitz People keep asking me how do I keep from repeating myself.

It's not easy, I admit. I get what I think is a good idea and start writing. Two or three paragraphs later it begins to sound familiar.

"Whoa!" I say, and go to my files. Sure enough, back in 1987 I did a column on the self-same subject. What's more, the words I just wrote are almost identical to the ones I used more than a dozen years ago.

So I throw away my deathless prose and start over on another topic � which is not easy to come by, incidentally. When Yogi Berra (or somebody) first uttered "that's deja vu all over again," they must have meant me.

"What's the matter?" Phyllis asks, as she finds me staring at my office wall. "Can't you find something to write about?"

I explain my dilemma to her and look for a little sympathy. But no! Instead she gets practical on me.

"So you've written about marbles before," she goes on. "That was a long time ago. Your two or three readers will have forgotten about it, and another column will sound brand new to them."

"But I'll know I'm repeating myself," I whine. "I've got a reputation to uphold."

I can tell she doesn't understand. I don't think William Shakespeare ever repeated himself, and neither did Ernest Hemingway.

"Well, you're no Shakespeare," she says, "although I've got to admit that you've managed to get by with much ado about nothing."

I ignore that little barb and try to think of something new to write about. It's a tough chore considering that I've covered more than 800 subjects since I started this weekly grind.

Avoiding duplication is a real challenge for me. I guess I should just take Phyllis's advice and not worry about repeating myself. Even though I've written about toads, tomatoes, ticks and tiddly winks before, maybe I'm fooling myself to think that people will remember that.

The same is true about socks, soda jerks, sheep, skull caps and shopping carts. I've been there; done that.

Why should I fret about it? After all, merchants like repeat business. Those of us who are Glenn Miller fans keep requesting In the Mood and Pennsylvania 6-5000. We even pray the same thing over and over again, so there's no reason why I can't write about something I've covered before.

They say that love is lovelier the second time around, and that ought to hold true for columns, too. Way back when I was studying advertising, they told us that Wrigley's Gum repeated the same message 33 times before potential buyers woke up and asked: "Oh, did you say something?" That's when the chicle company started its real pitch.

Shucks, all I'm concerned about is doing the same thing twice, not 33 times. The Wrigley people did their rehashing on purpose, and so did the "Where's the Beef?" promoters. They didn't worry about reiteration, so why should I?

Come to think of it, maybe I should just write a column about repeating myself. I've never done that before.

Gee, whatta ya know? I just did!

© 2001 Robert F. Karolevitz

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