Children's writing

Nothing New Under the Sun

This happens all the time and it drives me crazy: I’ll have an idea for a story or needlework design; I’ll look around to see if it’s been done; I won’t find anything; I’ll dink around, thinking and maybe even doing; then someone will come out with that very thing. Ahhhhh!

Just a few days ago I mentioned starting an online book club. One of my writing partners came up with a brilliant angle on that idea for our children’s writing. Two days later another group of children’s writers launched…an online book club.

Earlier this week, another needlework designer announced the release of a new design. You guessed it–I had had the same idea, which, by the way, is being called “unique” and “original.” I have to admit, albeit somewhat grudgingly, she did a nice job with it. That’s better than bringing the idea out in a half-baked way.

They say there’s nothing new under the sun. I think they’re right.

On the one hand, it’s frustrating. Others are executing my brilliant ideas before I can (sometimes many years before I can). But worst of all, it means there’s not an original idea in my chaotic and frequently overwhelmed noodle. For a supposedly creative person that’s depressing.

On the other hand, it’s not as though I have a shortage of ideas. I mean, part of the reason others are beating me to the punch is that I’m working on other things, or undecided about which idea to pursue. When someone else executes one of my ideas, I get to check it off my list! That’s a good thing; I should be grateful.

But seriously…this makes me wonder: what makes an idea original?

3 replies »

  1. You know Jen, I’d be willing to bet that your ideas *are* still original, because no matter how anyone else executes them, it won’t be the way you would do it. And I also think there’s room in this world for two similar, but not identical things. We each bring something unique to the table every time we go to it, and that in and of itself constitutes originality!

  2. Originality is not the same as unique. Are you a creative, intelligent person with many original (you did come up with them) thoughts, ideas, plans? Of course! The fact that others, also on theirown, come up with similar ideas doesn’t negate the originality of either. I does suggest that not many things are truly unique. (Please realize that one of my pet peeves is having people use the word “unique” as a relative term.) We all use the same set of senses to experience our world and a good idea must be one that others can relate to. So it isn’t surprising when others think along the same lines. The fact that they realized an idea before you doesn’t minimize the idea, but may enhance it. Also, just because they did it first doesn’t mean they did it better. I can see not wanting to pursue a similar design, but your take on a book club will be different, because you are unique, even if the idea isn’t. And let’s face it, you aren’t short on ideas!

  3. Okay. The distinction between “original” and “unique” is a good place to start my contemplation.

    I also like the idea that

    “We all use the same set of senses to experience our world and a good idea must be one that others can relate to.”

    I’d really like this to be a discussion. Anyone else? Thoughts?