Imitate – DON’T COPY – others’ successful ideas!
All the good ideas are already taken.
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Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
Those who know me will tell you that I am anything but cynical. Optimistic to the point of unrealistic sometimes, but rarely if ever cynical. Nevertheless, I do sincerely believe that there are very few new ideas out there. As I mentioned recently in a webinar on eBook Basics, unless you are in the know enough to be writing the latest celebrity biography or on the cutting edge of a brand new scientific discovery, virtually anything you write has been covered by someone before you. That being said, ingenuity and creativity abound – a secondary aspect of creativity is to generate “meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations.”*
I’m part of a screenwriting project with several other writers. As we were tossing around ideas for a script the other day, one member of the team said, “No – it’s already been done.”
Then, lo and behold, I attended Jeff Schimmel’s screenwriting class, where he told us, “It’s good if [your script] is like something else.” And, regarding TV, he said, “Write a copycat show. The networks appreciate you if you bring them an idea that works.” In other words, people (studio and network executives, in particular) like things with which they are already familiar. In fact, the new term in Hollywood for remake is “reimagining.”
One good way to mine new ideas is to see what other authors or experts in your industry are doing.
- Hit the Google and do a search for “author websites” if you need inspiration for your site.
- Pore over the titles in your subject area on Amazon for book cover ideas.
- Read other blogs in your area of specialization to see what your colleagues are writing about.
- Check in with the mainstream publications (on- and offline) on a regular basis to see what’s making the news.
- Visit YouTube to see what kinds of creative videos are being done around your sweetheart topic.
- Attend classes and workshops, even if you could be the teacher, to see how others are approaching the same subject.
- Look outside your own industry for ideas. Henry Ford borrowed the assembly line idea from a meatpacking plant, and revolutionized the auto industry!
The goal here is to look for inspiration – ways you could do something similar while making it your own and, one hopes, better. The idea is NOT to copy (or plagiarize) someone else’s work, but to look for ways to take their existing concepts and give them “meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations.” Don’t be Evander Holyfield, to whom it was suggested that he come up with his own product like the “George Foreman Grill” – and literally created the Evander Holyfield Grill. D’oh!
Let your reimagination reign. Your experience, your lens, your world view give you the advantage of seeing things from a new perspective – YOURS. Whether it’s the topic for your book or a strategy for marketing it, examine what has worked for others, and use that as the jumping off point that will catapult you to your own success!
* from Dictionary.com
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