Have you ever started to write only to get stuck, afraid that what you're writing is empty and the most unoriginal thing ever? I bet most of you have. It could be a piece of fanfic that you're afraid is littered with the same old fandom/fanon cliches or some original project you fear is just Buffy the Vampire Slayer all over again.
What do you do? How do you fight that self-damning urge?
As a writer, one of the things I struggle with is the wonderful concept of originality. I'm always terrified that my characters and plots are just some subpar ripoff of something else that came before it. I freeze with that kind of unfounded fear which prevents me from completing works. I don't want to be known as someone that just rips off stories and publishes her own.
That said, I'm acutely aware that the whole process of creation is rooted in the inspiration of other works. We are inspired by other creations that have come before us. Whether you find inspiration in nature, in science, in history, or in a tv show, a book you read, a song you've heard - it's all been done before. It's been done before that and before that. Creativity is a force that keeps creating.
Some of the greatest literary or entertainment works have been rooted in inspiration from other works. Most of us like to tap into those lovely universal archetypes. In the end, we'll each put our own spin on the story. That will make it unique. That will make it essentially our work.
I'm trying my very best to acknolwedge this and just keep going. It's hard. That critical voice in the back of my mind is always nagging me. But I figure what we should do as writers is just let that fear go and just create. If there are simialrities in the story, so be it. Most of the time, it won't be a rip off. The characters will evolve and take on their own distinct personalities and histories. The plots will twist and turn in spontenous unexpected ways.
I know I am inspired by everything. I am inspired by TV, film, video games, music, nature, science, history, or a random magazine article. Often, my ideas mirror something I've seen. They are rooted in the "what if?" What if character X did this instead? They are rooted in dissatifaction of missed opportunities. It sparks creation. This is what I would have done with said plot. This is what direction I would have taken.
It's a starting point. From there, the characters and plots will blosson. Maybe at first it will seem like you're copying. I'm arguing that you aren't. I'm trying to make myself realize this. I'm not out to copy other people's work. I'm out to explore questions and possibilties within my own plots and my own characters. At the end of the day, I know they'll be my own special creations. And if I love them, it will show.
I hope the same for you as well.
(Btw, anyone who wants to be on the writing filter I can put you on if you want. I rarely use it though. If you've asked in the past, you're already on it so don't worry. But like I said, I don't use it very often. Not because I don't want to, it's just half the time I don't think my ramblings are too exciting. Heh.)
ETA: Um, did that come off as whiny? It wasn't meant to be. This is sort of part discussion and part rant. I think I failed in what I set out to do whih was just to set up place for people to talk about what works for them, if they feel the same, and to find some solace. Hmm.