Anything They Can Do

“Anything you can do I can do better/I can do anything better than you!”

That’s one of the best-known songs in the Broadway musical “Annie Get Your Gun.” Rework the words a bit, and you have a strategy for finding new article ideas:

Anything they can do, you can do better!

The next time you read a story or another article and think, “I wish I could have written that,” look for an angle the writer might have missed. No article can ever cover all points of a story, interview every expert, or deliver every bullet point or numbered list of items to help someone solve any issue.

Look for anything the writer might have overlooked and think about your core set of beliefs or niche strategies applied to a particular article. You’ll be able to spin a completely new direction with your article when your unique viewpoint is added to the article idea.

One word of caution when using this article idea generation tip:

Do not rewrite someone else’s article. You can use others to help springboard your own article writing topics or article angles, but never use someone else’s content for your content template. You can do better than that. :) The quality of your uniqueness will shine through when 100% of your article content comes from your brain rather than recycling someone else’s content.

In summary, whenever you are reading someone else’s article and you think you can do better, write down your thoughts or article angle idea and produce another set of articles with less effort.

Lastly, some blog post trivia for you:

Today’s entry is also a secret lesson in repackaging content because the above tip was written by one of our EzineArticles editors back on March 18th, 2003 for the EzineArticles newsletter. I needed a fast tip to send to you today to help you come up with new article idea’s and this blog entry took all of (7-10) minutes to update and rewrite the old newsletter tip for a 2007 audience. Why reinvent the wheel? All I had to was change the tip from writing journalism stories to writing them as an expert author and this allowed me to produce an instant tip of relevant value. Do you have old ezine articles in your ezine archive that haven’t been converted to articles for syndication yet?


Zac Hawkins writes:


A great piece of advice. I would just add one thing.
Even if we don’t write an article about the same topic, reading good articles inspires us to write better ourselves.

(That’s why I like reading your articles)

I have found I subconsciously adapt my style to what I like about the numerous other articles I have read.

It is the same with website design. My site is very unique, but has elements I have liked in other quality sites.

Great article!

Comment provided March 17, 2007 at 2:14 PM


George Lockett writes:

Thank you Chris for your great Idea.

I will have a go at looking at some of the Negative News Stories we see in the Press. Look for more positive things that are happening in the World in a similar field and write a few articles about it, as a way to get people to lighten up a bit.

If you focus and feeling good and doing what brings you joy, you can radiate this love around you and change the World.


Comment provided March 17, 2007 at 2:19 PM


Phil Morgan writes:

Great advice… a helpful post.

I apply the same principle when blogging. Blogging very regularly can be tough. I like to keep a few of my favorite blogs bookmarked (like this one), and then I’ll surf their archives to check out topics they’ve covered in the past. After just a few minutes I usually have several ideas to get me started on writing my own latest entry.


Comment provided March 17, 2007 at 2:57 PM




You said ‘never use someone else’s content.’ Maybe you want to clarify or extend this more?

I understand why you say this, but I prefer sometimes to quote the other person’s content, which acknowledges it if I give also their name and link, and then add my additional ideas.

I don’t feel to contradict anyone’s ideas by quoting them and then pointing out what I don’t think is true. If I think someone else’s ideas are not true I won’t quote them in the first place.

So my method is rather to add my ideas to what someone else has said. This gives a richer mix for the reader.

The reason we might quote and acknowledge someone else is that it is all of us together producing that subject thread.

I am also against unacknowledged reprasing of someone else’s style and ideas. People have done this with me regarding some of the content of my books. They don’t acknowledge me! I say, at least acknowledge me so that readers can go to the original sources of some of the ideas.

The attempt to be original in a subject can produce inferior work. In scholarly writing you do survey the subject and give a report on what is already done by others, then add your bit.

In article writing it would be neat to quote one other expert besides yourself, don’t you think. That way the reader can compare you and the other expert. Maybe you won’t measure up. Maybe the other guy won’t measure up. Maybe you both will complement each other.

Comment provided March 17, 2007 at 3:34 PM



This is something I do everytime I see a viral article pop up and something everyone else should be doing as well. Great advice from the article guru himself.

Comment provided March 17, 2007 at 3:47 PM




If you want to quote someone else and give them credit for the quote, that type of content is best for your website, your blog, your ezine, but I don’t think it’s good for the article syndication model.

Reason: You may lose control of your ability to right a wrong if the person you quoted didn’t appreciate being quoted and asks you (with or without force) to remove it.

I don’t concur that it’s a good idea to quote another expert, for the same reasons I don’t promote our competitors when I write an article for syndication.

If you want to quote another expert for a non-syndicated article, I see nothing wrong with that.


I agree. Positive focused articles are always better for the article marketing model, or any model for that matter :).

Comment provided March 17, 2007 at 5:26 PM




Your ideas that go with article syndication are new to me. I see now that you are saying more than don’t quote without permission, but don’t quote anyway because you are offering an article for syndication. This avoids permission hassles.

So I am new to syndication and really don’t know that much about how syndication works. That’s for sure!

I have other issues: On a compediter site there were some articles on writing that were simply poor, and not expert. What happens to articles here that are obviously not expert? Are they rejected? Do you reject articles after three months who don’t get read, like a cut-off point? Really the question: how do you control for quality so that this site has a good expert reputation?

Maybe it’s off your subject, or only on if you should be trying to write expert articles, it seems to me, as part of reading someone else’s article and then writing a better one yourself on the same subject.

Comment provided March 17, 2007 at 5:42 PM



Did you get this idea from the pants commercial that’s out? I forget if it’s Gap or Old Navy – “the boyfriend trouser” or something. I have been singing the song for the past three days. It finally went out of my head – now it’s back in. Thank you. ;O

Good psychological article writing strategy! Indeed, I’ve used it myself.


Comment provided March 17, 2007 at 6:03 PM


Jeff Herring writes:

Hi Chris!

Wonderfully useful tip! That’s how I began to write back in the early 90’s when I would read parenting articles by John Rosemond who would give good info but I always found myself thinking “that could have been said better!”

Your idea also goes along with my belief that there are more people out there waiting to hear your message, who can only hear it from you, than you can ever get to in your lifetime.

This helps many private practice people and writers who think there niche is too over-crowded for them to even bother. I’ve said this so often that recently a student challenged me to take my quote and make a mini-poster out of it – you can get it for free at

Thanks again Chris. Catch you soon!

Comment provided March 17, 2007 at 6:04 PM




I answered your off-topic issue with a full-blown blog entry:

Comment provided March 17, 2007 at 6:58 PM



Dear Chris,

Your idea is very good! It’s a good motivation when we don’t know what to write. It’s better than developing a new subject from the beginning…
I never do that however, because I have many things to write about. I think the best thing a writer can do in order to find inspiration is a deep study about any subject. He must learn everything he can about the matter, and then write his opinion about what he learned. This way he’ll give people real and useful information, besides his personal suggestions and advices.

Comment provided March 17, 2007 at 7:14 PM


Aidan Maconachy writes:

Chris –

Thanks for taking the trouble to keep writers updated with tips and suggestions. I found this one particularly interesting.

I’m most familiar with writing academic papers and of course with those you are required to rigorously cite sources. With my blog posts I do draw on secondaries on occasion, mostly via news items. In most instances though I try to make a point of hyperlinking the reader to the original article, especially if I’m drawing heavily on the source material.

The use of sources is dependent to some extent on subject matter. For example an experienced crafts person will be able to write from a personal vantage point about the techniques involved in producing a piece of pottery, without having to draw on secondary source material. Similarly, a motivational speaker will have his/her method so well honed that writing about it is almost second nature.

If though, you are writing about a ground breaking scientific discovery in the area of astrophysics or a political event, you’re dependent to a large degree on information via news stories. The analysis and conclusion is of course the writer’s, but only after accessing the facts, data etc associated with the story via reliable sources.

When I began posting on Ezine, I wasn’t as clear on what distinguishes a blog-suitable article from one that does best on Ezine.

The clarifications on this thread have been very helpful.

Comment provided March 17, 2007 at 8:47 PM


Jan Verhoeff writes:

The quote idea works particularly well in blog posts, where you want to refer to someone’s article, but maybe not post it. Make the link point to a blank page, so the reader doesn’t leave your blog, but opens a new page to read the article you quoted.

It offers a chance to promote someone else, if you wish, and not lose a reader from your site.

I also make use of this feature in newsletters. It just makes sense to use other people to reinforce your points, but keep your readers where possible.


Comment provided March 17, 2007 at 10:10 PM



Hi Chris,
Your advice is going to the point !
Actually this what makes competition about writing
articles fierce nowadays.

Comment provided March 17, 2007 at 11:49 PM


Noreen Ruth writes:

An observation I’ve made regarding original content speaks to your comment. When I’m researching a topic and use the search engines, I am disappointed to find the content from one reputable website repeated again and again in the results. Using article directories such as EzineArticles has eliminated that frustration. I appreciate the originality of the articles and have found answers here that I have failed to find elsewhere. To all of the authors I would like to say, “Keep up the good work writing original articles.”

Comment provided March 19, 2007 at 5:32 PM


Majelis writes:

Wonderful tip, Chris! As long as it is not misinterpreted as rewrite someone else’s articles. It goes very well with the statement: “There is nothing new under the sun.”

Getting ideas and inspirations from the works of good writers is a normal process of learning to write. But one will lose the enjoyment of his writing achievement if he only rewrites other people’s work and claims that it is his original work. Because one cannot cheat his own subconscious mind.

Happy writing to us all!

Comment provided March 19, 2007 at 10:31 PM



On writing Original Articles

When I was studying in collage I was impressed to find out that T.S. Eliot, a trend setter in a new style of poetry, of which he was the best, said in an essay that the best poets build on what went before. He used the image of the pyramid. You as a writer to write at the top of the pyramid must acknowledge all the writers who went before and built up to where you are now. You contribute in your own work what they have done and you add a little something more. Then others will take your place.

Actually, in human intellectual history, you are supposed to know the work of others in your subject field, and to build better.

No one said rewrite articles but know what your other niche authors are doing, take inspiration from them, and see if you can add better, or at least new stuff.

Don’t think in your writer arrogance (and mine) that you will necessarily write a better article than someone else’s article on a subject. Maybe it will be a re-hash or worse?

There was a time that artists and writers did not sign their work. In the rational golden age of Greece 500 BJE they began signing their work. There is much in the Bible that is not signed work. People then assumed that their ideas came from a source other than themselves. Maybe not such a bad idea.

I consider this age the ‘cult of the personality.’ Who says it is all that good for you to cultivate an individual identity anyway? Maybe you are not that important, but the best ideas possible that enhance all of us is what is important in articles.

My awareness is that to keep up with modern software and computing power an individual intelligence cannot cope. The Internet means now almost instance information processing.

The new intelligence needed for problem-solving and creation will be based on teams of intelligences working cooperatively together. Thus someone has said that web-2 is characterized by no one person directing the show from the top but people contributing together to create a new whole.

It’s team intelligence out there. We would do well to give up some individual identity to get with the program of team intelligence which is exponentially much more effective.

Be careful of the competitive idea: that you are writing to be better, or get the money, over someone else. You can take someone else’s ideas and add to them, rearrange them, evaluate them, in the spirit of cooperative intelligence.

The lesson of Bush is to show how one man with extremely low intelligence tries to run the show in a modern world and can do nothing better than f— it up.

Learn to lend your intelligence to others, I believe is the new principle. Ask always, “what can I add to make the whole better?”

Maybe get rid of any ‘cult of personality attitudes the adults might have put into you in the past.

You are not that important, though a few of your ideas might be!

Comment provided March 20, 2007 at 2:34 AM



Dear Chris,

Thanks to your invitation I’m preparing a new article. It’s very nice to write articles, what I never did before. I usually write very long books. The Internet made me write small ebooks however and the idea of writing a short article about something is very exciting, because we can write only a little bit about a subject, while showing many things!


Comment provided March 20, 2007 at 10:13 AM


Majelis writes:

Hi Christina,

If you used to write very long books, it will be much easier for you to write short articles likes those featured on EzineArticles.Com. Welcome and Happy writing articles, Christina !

Comment provided March 20, 2007 at 7:03 PM


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