Are Your Ideas Unique Enough?
Destroying a common writing roadblock
One common trap writers can lead themselves into is stressing out over originality.
Is my idea unique enough?
The question can repeat itself in your skull over and over until you forgot why you wanted to become a writer in the first place.
This has been done before. This has been done a thousand times. I’m not original. I’m a fraud.
But the fact that this idea has been done a thousand times already should tell you something else: it works.
Ideas don’t get repeated because they are bad. The best ideas are contagious, and smart writers will gleefully open their mouths wide and let them cough into their throats on the off-chance that they might also get infected. I feel like I got a little lost in the imagery in that last sentence, but I stand by it.
A totally unique idea is rare. They exist, but even then if you dig deep enough you’re bound to uncover familiar roots. It is very easy to paralyze yourself with the concern that you’re writing something unoriginal. I would wager that this specific worry is the cause of most cases of writers’ block in the universe.
Of course, I’m not claiming nothing separates bad stories from good stories. I actually think originality does play a huge factor in a book’s success. Your writing should be unique, absolutely, but not in the way you might be thinking.
Instead of focusing on a unique idea, I recommend saving your energy for conceptualizing a unique delivery.
Most if not all writers are playing in the same sandbox, but not all of them are using that sand to build the same architectures. Ideas are easy to recycle. How those ideas are presented, that’s when originality is necessary. If someone reads a book and realizes they’ve previously read something with a similar plot, that doesn’t always mean they are going to DNF it. But if they realize not only have they read a similar plot, but the other book told it in the exact same way? Now you might be in trouble.
There are only so many ideas in the world, but there are infinite ways to present those ideas—just as there are only twenty-six letters in the English alphabet, and an infinite amount of words to spell with them (this feels right, but I’m not fact-checking it).
So if you find yourself stuck with your WIP because the idea feels too derivative, consider the issue might be in how you are presenting the idea rather than the idea itself.
Rethink your POV. Rethink your structure. Rethink your book’s intended length. Rethink your characters’ motives, their actions, their desires, their fates. Rethink everything. Scramble that shit until you cook up something you’ve never seen before.
Then make it sing.
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