Writing Life

No New Writing Ideas

Writers are often told to be original. To come up with their own unique ideas that no one else has ever thought of. There's a certain amount of fear instilled in us, that if we write anything remotely resembling something else, we're going to be labeled as the copycat. We'll be shunned to the reject table reserved for unoriginal writers, and no one will ever read another of our books for the rest of our lives.

OK, maybe that's a little dramatic, but you catch my drift. We can spend so much time worrying about whether or not something is truly unique, that it can inhibit not only our writing, but our success as an author. If we're hung up on originality, we can lose confidence in our work, which translates to how we promote and sell ourselves and our books.

Here's the thing: there's no such thing as a completely original idea.

I repeat. There's no such thing as a completely original idea. Let me just sit back for a moment and let that sink in.

... ... ...

OK, I think we're good to continue.

The thing is, although we all have unique ideas, they're not 100% original. And that right there is an important distinction.

Do you want to write a book about unicorns who ski? Well, somewhere in this vast world, someone probably has had that same idea. But that shouldn't dissuade you from writing that book about skiing unicorns.

Just because your idea might be the same as someone else's, it doesn't mean the story will be the same. Both of you will have a different voice, different characters, and different plots. Those are the things that make each of your books unique. They're what will make one book appeal to certain readers and not others. It has nothing to do with the idea and everything to do with the writing.

We shouldn't concern ourselves with originality. Rather, we should concern ourselves with uniqueness.

Focus on finding your voice and writing style. Find quirks in your characters and their relationships. Build your own unique world, or put your own twist on a real setting. These are things that will make your story stand out among others, even if the basic idea is the same.

These things are why we can have 1,204,567 books about dragons. Because although the basic idea of dragons might be the same, the stories are different and the dragons are unique. Some like tacos, and some horde gold. Some breathe fire, and some breathe poison. Some speak telepathically, and some don't speak at all. Some are friend, and some are foe.

But each of their stories is distinctive. Each will conjure different feelings and memories in its readers, and that's what writing is all about. It isn't about originality. It's about taking your readers on a unique and memorable journey.

So, go ahead. Write your book about dragons, vampires, aliens, or skiing unicorns. Don't worry about how many times it's been done before. Focus on making it your own.


Do you feel a constant push to be original? Has having an unoriginal idea prevented you from writing about it? Why or why not?
Share in the comments!

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