I figured that after eleven years in the industry, my chance of having another first was minimal but I was wrong; I recently experienced a bad first. I'd been contracted to write an article for a magazine, one of my regular writing gigs. I've worked with the latest editor on a half dozen articles and she had developed a level of confidence in my work. She told me I could pick any topic to write about that the magazine's readers would be interested in, I just needed to keep the word count to 1,600. I love when editors give you free reign as to what to write about.
I debated the topic until the deadline loomed so close that I had to choose one. I went about writing the article, interviewing sources, and triple checking my facts. I sent the article to the editor a day early (one of my goals for 2015) and gave myself a mental pat on the back for a job well done. Until the unthinkable happened...
The editor called me the next day and informed me that I'd written an identical article for her two years previously. She said I gave the same information in the first article as I'd written in the article I submitted the day before, only with different sources. D'oh! I compared the old article with the new one and sure enough, the two articles were almost identical besides the names of the people I quoted. I apologized profusely and the editor, who was uber-gracious, gave me a week to write another piece for her. I pounded out a new article on a different subject after double-checking that I hadn't done a remotely similar article for her ever. I submitted the piece five days later with another heartfelt apology.
Learn from my bad mistake and don't let one of your firsts be writing an article that you already wrote.