1. Sphi
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    Sphi Member

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    I want to be original... so I won't let myself write

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Sphi, May 19, 2009.

    I don't know if anybody else has this problem, but it's a huge issue for me. I'm so obsessed with coming up with something original that I refuse to write ANYTHING until an original idea comes to me. I know I should be practicing my skills and coming up with some stuff to get reviews for, but I can't bring myself to do it. It's like, I don't want to write something that feels exactly like another story. It seems like it's all been done before. All the feelings have been taken, all the basic storylines, all the conflicts, and all the characters.

    Anyone else have this issue?
    Help?
     
  2. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    No, I don't think most people do, because we know that it is an impossible expectation for yourself. The best thing to do is to take ideas that mean something to you and make them your own. Even if the concept or basic plot is familiar, it will be unique because YOU wrote it. It's like playing jazz, which is almost always improvised to a certain extent. They may be playing a song you are familiar with, but the musician is making up variations as s/he goes along, so it sounds a little different every time. Think of all the thousands of ways people have written Cinderella. Nobody has every gotten tired of it yet.
     
  3. Dcoin
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    Dcoin Contributing Member

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    Being that the written word has been around for a couple of thousand years, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that NOTHING new will ever be written.

    Now make a choice. Are you going to step up to plate and add your own color to an existing idea or fade into the unoriginal and not write.

    The only thing original is the way YOU look at the unoriginal.
     
  4. CDRW
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    CDRW Contributing Member Contributor

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    Screw originality and screw practice. I like to rock climb and there's a couple things I've learned from it that carry over to writing.

    "The best way to train for climbing is to climb." Pull-ups, push-ups, and weight lifting are all fine and dandy for general health, but they don't work nearly as fast or efficient as just going out to the crag and making a go at it. Why waste time with training when the real thing is more fun and effective?

    "It's not fun trying to climb something beyond your ability." Yeah the first guy to the top gets some bragging rights, but that's not why he went. You climb because it's fun. You climb because it's a challenge. You climb because you like the feeling you get when you look down and realize that if you fell and your gear gave way you would be killed, but you won't fall because you're in control, not gravity. It doesn't matter if the route you're on has been climbed or not you still get that feeling of triumph and you can still satisfy your desire for exploration because you haven't seen that particular place before. Gone are the days when you could just hike into the mountains and make a bid for the first one up. The stuff that remains unclimbed is unclimbed for good reason. If you want to make tracks into the unknown, you have to first be able to handle what is known.

    Just write what you want when you want. When you're having fun doing it you'll do it more and the practice problem is taken care of. When you're having fun is also when your creativity is sparked, that's when you'll be able to do something that is unique.
     
  5. Okie
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    Okie Member

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    I'm taking bets right now, if you start writing something, even something unoriginal, you're going to get an idea in your head that maybe you could change this, or that.

    You could read a particularly bad book and go over each passage with the thought in mind, how would I do this?

    You could take cinderella and twist it into a horror tale.

    There are so many ways to be creative with unoriginal work, it comes full circles and is original again. It's all in how you see the world. Write that down. Tell us how you see it. Don't hold back.
     
  6. psyence53
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    psyence53 Senior Member

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    Storytelling is OLD. SOOO OLD. Something we think is original may not be. We haven't heard every story, or every account of everyone who ever existed's lives. Originality is relative. I get these thoughts, oh that's too cliche. Oh that's so naff. Oh this oh that, but it's all excuses not to write. But i think in writing and thinking, you later think of things that surprise you.

    Things can always be written and re-written later. That's the thought that I try to cling on to in the hope of one day writing something xD

    But it does seem to me that some people like writting a string of similar things, or something that is similar to "what works" or "what people like." I prefer the idea of bending the rules. I don't believe at heart that if i wrote anything, it would ever be accepted, which is why i'm erring towards weird ideas, controversial ideas and breaking the mould. Which is silly, because they say don't break the rules until you can follow them successfully. But who cares what "they" say, right?

    Just write what you feel you want to write.
     
  7. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    There is another option, which is to write a few words and let the words themselves begin to speak back. For me, I never ever have an idea before I begin. The idea always materializes from the words and whatever I make of them as I go. For short fiction, it usually takes me an hour or two before I recognize the actual "story."

    Although there are lots of fine authors who work differently, there are plenty of perfectly successful writers (even novelists) whose approach is similar. Either way, I can't imagine writing out of sheer stubborness to avoid learning and practicing the tools of the trade--i.e., the craft.

    Something that helped me when I started, and I still do it when I rewrite, is to think of a "rule" or a piece of writing advice (especially if I don't fully trust it) and, rather than purposefully ignoring it, I take a story and MAKE it conform to the rule or advice, just to see what that does to my writing. Eight or nine times out of ten it'll improve it. And guess what happens with the exceptions. It suddenly occurs to me that I have a perfectly defensible (literary) reason to do it my way instead.

    Sometimes what "they say" has very productive side effects.
     
  8. psyence53
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    psyence53 Senior Member

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    When you're in a position like mine, it does no good to take any one advice, ones self included. Trying anything is the only way. Hence ive gone from books, to just writing, to books again, to online communities... I have found many a questionnaire or writing exercises helpful.
     
  9. Primitive
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    One who actually wants to write, will just write no matter what. One does not worry about cliche.

    Imagine not wanting to live life simply because your not original enough....

    Its all about style, dicipline and ability, not originality. If your going to end of doing something here, you'll just pick up a pen, or open aword program and start.

    Only my five cents of thought though.
     
  10. psyence53
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    psyence53 Senior Member

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    I quite agree. Well partly. The months of procrastination fuels the doubt. I'm going to give it a chance. I've had a wee bit of progress in ideas last couple of nights so I will try some character sketches and exercises and prompts or just jot down the scenes i see in my head. Its waiting. If i cant do it, then I'll know its a waste of time thinking about it.

    First step is writing. I think fancifying things can come in the rewrites, as you learn more about yourself and what makes you original. Personally.

    Btw, thanks Primitive and ManhattanMss :)
     
  11. xLucyx
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    xLucyx Banned

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    As the others have said, no concept is completely original. Even if parts of it are, it will always have aspects that are similar to others' work.

    The only way you'll ever be able to write well is if you write frequently, which isn't going to happen if you're trying to achieve an impossible task before you so much as begin.

    If you come up with an idea you like, the only way you can make it your own is by writing it the way you write. As long as the plot isn't identical to another writer's plot, you should be fine! Simply write it the way you want to and add your own twists and quirks.

    Good luck!
     
  12. psyence53
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    psyence53 Senior Member

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    I agree with that. I say i like books that are different. I.e i might be interested in, for example controversial subjects (incest and such) which are different from the norm, but not original. Controversies are old, and also not infinte im sure. So, while i may like reading them, they all share many factors. I would definitely agree and say that nothing will ever be completely original.

    I like what xLucyx said about "writing it the way you write." Everyone is individual and everything is relative. If you write a cliche story in your own voice with your own passion and energy, you will create your own.
     
  13. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Those that claim everything has been done are generalizing I think. New ideas are still written. But you can't expect to come up with those ideas. Anything you write will have your own twist and style, and that it seems is what people want to read.

    People were claiming that no one writes anything new, but then someone came up with the idea of nano-bots. String theory is another recently new idea. New monsters and species are always invented.
     
  14. bluebell80
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    bluebell80 Contributing Member

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    Writing is all about rewriting. I can sympathize with your desire to be original, because I know I want to be original too.

    I came to the realization that if I want to write something original, I have to read what else is out there so I don't copy it. I read stuff from all different genres, the good the bad and the scarily horrible. What better way to learn what not to do than read some bad writing? Or how else can we learn what we feel works or doesn't work in a good story? How can we improve on our own writing if we don't know how to analyze someone else's?

    The best way to be original is to read and write. All the basic plots have been fleshed out already, adventure, love triangles, murder mysteries...and so on. So what we have to be original with is our characters, settings, and situations in relation to the plot we choose.

    Sometimes we aren't quite sure what type of plot it is until we have established a couple of characters we really care about. We, as writers, tend to fall in love with our characters when we come up with the right ones. We even love the characters we want the reader to hate.

    An other good trick in coming up with good characters is looking around you at the people in your world. Characters who are stereotypes tend to be flat characters, so to infuse a little realism into them, we can look to those around us, from conversations overheard at the market, to friends and family members. We can observe people in movies and on TV. Look at facial expressions, body language, and their cadence to flesh out characteristics to give to your imaginary friends.

    Get some psychology books. Understanding human nature and personalities can help with creating a believable character and world they live in. Knowing what kind of psychosis to give to a character can be a very useful tool in character creation.

    Watch the news, read biographies, watch biographical shows on TV, learn about history, all these things can help unblock our creative juices and give us something to ask the question, "What if?" We ask that because that is the basis for writing fiction. We ask the question "What if this happened to this kind of person? How would they react? What kind of consequences could result from their reactions?" and we go on from there.

    Don't give yourself writers block by trying to come up with a new kind of plot line. There are like 13 basic plots and some 30+ different subplots with any combination of those to choose from. It is good to keep the different plots in mind as we create our characters and settings, because eventually we will have to decide what kind of story it is that we are telling.

    I'm currently working on a type of science fiction/ epic adventure/drama that deals with subplots of good vs evil, truth and reality, and relationships. I don't have a strict plot line at the moment, I am taking more of a "write the characters in this setting with these current conflicts" and what happens next is what should naturally happen to these people as a result of this decision.

    I'm writing the first draft and then I will really go back and edit the story for plot consistences, characterization, and setting enhancement. I know a general area I want to get to by the end of this book to enter into the next book. But, I am not sure how my characters are going to get there yet.

    I just know I can't over think it. It has to come naturally. Of course a lot of what I write will end up being poo that has to be cut or change, but that is what revising is for, to make the story better. I take comfort in the knowledge that most published authors have to revise countless times before a manuscript is ready to be published, so I shouldn't expect anything less for myself.

    Trust me, I've been at this for years now, and I have only recently been introduced to my best characters so far. I have more half started stories than I care to admit. I may eventually return to those stories to see if there is anything useful to work with, but for now they will collect imaginary dust. I like to just keep moving forward: It keeps the self doubt away.

    Jenn
     
  15. Romendacil
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    In music, perhaps you'll not be surprised to hear this, you don't hear any new melodies. Any melodies you hear from contemporary music have probably been used before in some point at history. Do you have any idea of the sheer amount of melodic ideas in 1 classical symphony? Probably the equivalent of 100++++ popsongs.

    Every harmonic progression, melody and theme has probably been heard before. You CANNOT come up with a 100% original chord progression, melody or composition in general. - Purely musically speaking. Yet you still see classical music/jazz music thriving on and bringing to life sounds you've never dreamed of! That makes you wonder, is the melody everything? Is the harmony?

    It seems that what can come off as original is ONLY the combination of all elements that make music music. The instruments, the timbre, the feel, the (yes:) combination of melody/harmony and even - at times - the performer. I believe it is the same thing in writing: in literature. You CANNOT come up with a theme that hasn't been thought of before. You cannot become up with a plot, that (in a rough form) hasn't been used before. You cannot conjure up a character that doesn't get stuck in SOME kind of stereotype. But NOBODY is going to write a book like you will with the same idea/plot/characters.
    Nobody.
     
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  16. psyence53
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    psyence53 Senior Member

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    They are very valid points. I love hearing discussions! The development of the human species pretty much proves me wrong. The micro-chip. All the space theories and such. Perhaps everything is just inspired by something else? Maybe everything is relative, or maybe everything is completely unrelated unless specifically plagiarised. How many songs are there in the world? How many musical notes are there? How many stories and lyrics and poems have been written with the 26 letters of our alphabet (or other languages, whatever). Hmm...
     
  17. Life705
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    I'm so glad to hear that I'm not the only one! I have this problem all the time. I've recently started gathering my ideas up and began writing again. You will find that there are many ideas in your head that are original, and probably very interesting. The trouble is recognizing them and determining whether they are writable or not.
     
  18. Gallowglass
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    Steal someone else's basic plot, add your own characters, setting, and your character's reasons. Adjust personalities. Give them unique but subtle differences that make them memorable. Give the illusion of your story being original.

    On the surface, my story is very original - who else has written a book about the Last Gaelic Empire? But, wait, no, actually the general theme is stolen from merged oral stories and sennachie's ballads about events that could have taken place.

    Just make the illusion of originality. Trust me, it's as good as an entirely original piece of work.
     
  19. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Take Shakespeare. Add lions. Voila.
     

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