Sunday, September 4, 2011

Copying is the Most Sincere Form of Flattery... But Don't Do It

Okay, so don't you just hate those days where your there suffering from bloggers block, and then you go online and find out that hey, your the only one! Not that other's never do get it, they just don't have it at the same time as you. In fact, they happen to be brimming with the kind of genius that makes you kick yourself for not thinking of it first. And then their ingenuity gives you a good idea, but you can't write it now because they beat you to it.

Or can you?

I have this weird little mentality that if I want to write something similar (or on the same topic) as something another blogger wrote, that I shouldn't do it. Or, at least not for a couple months. Because its copying, unoriginal, and people have already heard it before so its redundant.

But is that really true? Cus, honestly, I'm mostly just being too hard on myself. So I started thinking about it, and I decided that if I've got something to say, then gosh dang it, I'm gonna go say it. If reading another person's blog gives me an idea on the same topic, then its okay to go and write about it. If it's a new take on an old topic, then people will still want to hear it.

Now am I going to start copying everybody else's posts? No, not at all. But if I have a friend who posts about cliches, dialogue, plot, etc. and it inspires me to write something about that, then I will. But I'll add to it to make it original, and something worth reading.

(HINT: This can apply to our writing, too)

Now here's the question: How do we know when to stop? Because while sometimes we do have a great idea, other times where just following the cliches. So how do we recognize it and know when we need to make some serious changes?

Well, Christine Tyler has an answer. Here.

Dang, I couldn't have said it better myself. Seriously, avoiding cliches can be hard stuff, so this post was perfect for me. So go ahead and answer the questions, and make some changes if need be. But most of all, have fun while doing it, because if we're not enjoying our writing, then why do it?

So have you ever read another person's post and had a light-bulb moment? Ever had blogger's block really bad? What do you do to fight it? Answer below!


  1. I'm not sure about it. But to be honest I was once told there is no one purely original idea out there. With the amount of people that blog in this day and age - you can be pretty guaranteed that someone, somewhere is blogging about the topic you are, even if you think you're the only one.

    I think inspiration is one thing... but actually copying is the bad kettle of fish.

    And yeah, I've been inspired before, but my brain works in tangents, so I tend to vere off anyway hehe.

  2. I think there's a big difference between copying and being inspired by something. If I read a post and I think I've got something to add that's too long for a comment, I'll write a post that starts: I read 'this' post on 'this' blog and it made me think... whilst linking to both the post and the blog. Only if I've got something new to add though.

    On the other hand, if I think the post is worth sharing and I don't have anything to add to the conversation, I'll just link the post and suggest people read it, like you did above.

  3. I agree with what Sarah said. If you have something to add to a topic, you should feel free to add it. The blogger who inspired you will probably be thrilled they got you thinking and that you're linking to their blog - I know I would be! :-)

  4. K.T. Hanna, first off, Hi! Thanks for stopping by :) I had actually thought about that, of how some one some where is bound to have written about an idea/topic like yours. My drawing teacher in school actually had us discuss this kind of topic, of originality vs. creativity. He basically said that while we can't really be original nowadays, we can still be CREATIVE.

    Ooh, Sarah, that's a good idea! I'll start doing that!

    Thanks for all the comments guys! :D

  5. I think you've got the right idea - if you're inspired to add something to/present a different take on a post that sparked an idea, that's just fine. I would also do what Sarah does and mention/link back to the post that inspired you. There's a huge difference between presenting your take on a popular topic and plagiarism. Like K.T. Hanna said, there really is no such thing as a purely original idea!

  6. I get a lot of comments and emails asking me if it's ok if they use my latest post as the subject or inspiration for their posts. I'm a very good blogger and I tend to cover a lot of topics that don't get a lot of attention. I don't mean that to come off as bragging, what I'm trying to say is, this comes up for me and often. And here's what I tell everyone who asks:

    Go for it. Write away. Link to me if you want, but you don't have to. It doesn't matter if someone writes on the same topic as me or even approaches it from the same angle - we will always write about it differently because we come from different backgrounds, different experiences, and different emotions. I'm really happy to inspire people to blog about similar topics and the more top notch content out there, the better. I don't even mind if people repost things of mine, so long as they give me a link back. I might be in the minority on that last one, but for everything else? The number of bloggers willing to help other bloggers far outweighs those who are more protective of their content.

    And anyway, how many people out there have written about editing? About writer's block and cover art? And for every person who writes about those things, there are that many different angles, different voices, different stories.

  7. If it's a common topic, say editing or the view from your writing window, I don't think you should worry about it. If it's a more unusual, unique topic, you should put up a link to the person who gave you the idea. People love to be linked to, and will probably stop by your blog to thank you.

  8. I'm new to blogging so haven't experienced bloggers block (yet.) I wouldn't have a problem with linking to someone else's post as inspiration for my own thoughts, or mentioning another bloggers thoughts and then elaborating with my own. But I'd probably feel wrong about not giving the original blogger a mention. I mean if their post was enough to light a spark with me, might as well share it with others as well.

  9. I do take inspiration from other posts, but I see it as more of a conversation. Not that I want to say the same thing that has already been said, but that I want to react, respond. That's the most amazing thing about blogs - the ability to connect, interact, discuss. It's a community-wide conversation.

    As far as fiction goes, I am sometimes plagued by the sense that everything's already been written and what's left for me. But I know it's not so much about new core ideas as new takes on it. THough, I guess that's the hard part!

  10. I have those light bulb moments all the time. And I think you're fine writing about it afterward. No two people are the same and your post might affect someone differently than the other one you read. And then you'd give your readers the chance to think about the same topic that maybe they missed on the other blog. Just sayin' :)

    Thanks for the link!

  11. I have a blog award for you! Come get it when you get the chance.

  12. Thanks for the shout-out!

    I don't think there's anything wrong with covering topics others have. I usually like to link to other's posts to back up my own claims on the topic. You see agents and professional writers do it all the time on their blogs.

    But at the same time, I feel like my best ideas (and so far my most popular posts), have come from conversations where I've said, "hasn't anyone else noticed this?"

    Like "Why There Will Never Be Another Harry Potter." I didn't see anyone else write a post like this, but a lot of people were like, "dang right! I had this thought but didn't know how to write it!"

    Or comparing Jurassic Park scenes back to back in wins and fails. I haven't seen that, but I'm planning more of them because they're my favorite thing to write.

    And maybe someone else has done it. I don't feel too threatened, because I know I was bound to say something different.

    I find my happy place when I write about what I care about. If I'm thinking about five blogs posts and how they're all talking about queries, heck, I'll write about it and let people know what five blogs I've been vacillating over. If I'm ranting about dinosaur books to my mom, I'll jump up and talk about that.

    Blogs get hard and stuffy when I worry about what people want to read.