Are There Any Original Ideas Left? — WN 042

Is it true that there’s “nothing new under the sun”, that we just keep retelling the same 3 stories over and over, and that Hollywood is out of ideas? Are there any original ideas left to be had by you or me? Let’s explore this and much more in Episode 042 of the Write Now podcast!

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Listen Now: Are There Any Original Ideas Left? — WN 042

Why is it important for us to have original ideas?

We love being “that person” — the person who came up with the idea, invented the machine, or solved the problem. But why?

The simple answer is that whoever does it first gets the credit. And oh, how we love to get credit! Credit validates us. It tells us and everyone around us, “This person is worth something! This person has contributed to society. This person matters.”

And I think that there is nothing wrong with wanting to matter.

However, having an original idea is not the only way to matter. It’s not the only way to live a life full of purpose and meaning.

Plus — did you know? You already matter. You are already important, and your life is already priceless. Even if you never have an original idea, even if you never write your book (and I still hope that you do), I want you to know that you are an amazing person regardless.

Why does it feel like every time I have a new idea, I start seeing it everywhere?

Podcast listener Theresa wrote in with some great questions that I’d like to share with you. She writes,

One thing I’ve found in this whole [novel-writing process] is that what I once believed to be an original idea for my book I start to see everywhere! There seems to be so many books coming out of the woodworks that have the same theme and premise of the one I am trying to write.
Do you think that this is because of the whole yellow car dilemma (once your attention is called to them you find yellow cars everywhere), and since I am sensitive to the topic my mind immediately goes to “Hey that’s like mine!”, or is it simply the fact that great minds think alike?
Assuming you and others may be going through similar ordeals, how do you not become discouraged when writing your now “unoriginal” (as you may consider it) idea?

Great, great questions. And yes, I think that great minds do think alike, as the saying goes — or at least they seem to. But whether that comes from a shared cultural experience or something less concrete, there is nothing we can do to affect what ideas other people are having, or whether they act on those ideas.

So let’s look a little deeper at the things we can affect.

I’d never heard of “yellow car” syndrome before, but I think that it may be a factor here, too. To this, I say don’t let it get to you too much — there are 9 billion people on the planet and there’s bound to be some crossover sometimes in the things we think about and the ideas we have. I think this is something else we just have to make our peace with since we can’t stop other people from having ideas.

We can, however, stop ourselves from acting on our ideas. And this is the real problem — when we let the fact that someone else has an idea similar to ours stop us from creating.

So… are there any new ideas?

There are folks who would argue that “there are no new ideas”, or “there’s nothing new under the sun” (that was Shakespeare, right? or maybe the Bible). However, I think there can be new ideas — or at least unique takes on old ideas, or new combinations of existing ideas. The human brain is amazing and its potential is limitless. I say dream big.

A novel is more than an idea. It’s storytelling, plot, character, art, execution, skill, and talent all rolled into one. So even if there is someone else out there with the same idea as you… that idea is just one small piece of the whole puzzle. Don’t get too hung up on the significance or role of the idea.

And remember: while other folks may have the same idea as you, no one else is you. No one else is going to execute that idea in exactly the same way you will, with the same voice, characters, plot twists, etc.

No one can write your novel but you.

So please don’t be discouraged! You are 100% unique and amazing! So take an idea that you love, and that you’re passionate about, and truly make it your own in the way that only YOU can.

What about you?

Do you agree? Are there any ideas left? Or are we simply creating reiterations of old ideas? Let me know your thoughts via my contact page, leave a comment below, or simply email me at hello [at] sarahwerner [dot] com! 🙂

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Originally published at on June 6, 2016.

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