An important lesson about similar stories and repeated content

Somewhere around the year 2004:

I learned something this morning while casually watching tv that I should not forget. My wife and I are in San Francisco, and we just moved to a different hotel last night, from the Hotel Triton to the Tuscan Inn. I had a cooking show on tv this morning, mostly just to have a little noise in the room. The cook-guy was talking about how to prepare flank steak. As he was talking I started thinking, “How many cooking shows have already been about flank steak?” Then I thought, “How many people before this guy have said the exact same thing about flank steak (in this case that you should cut it against the grain)?”

In spite of the fact that this subject has probably been covered a thousand times already, here was another guy saying the same thing. It struck me because this is something I always worry about when I’m writing: “Has someone already written this before?” After watching this show it made me think, BS, it doesn’t matter if I can write it better. I can say the same thing other people are saying, and it doesn’t matter if I say it more clearly.

Lesson learned, keep writing.