Writer Realities #3: Originality Doesn’t Matter

Many of us struggle with the question of how original our work is. In the early stages of a writing career, it may seem vital to be as original as possible.

I’m here to say that this isn’t necessarily true. While I won’t ever condone plagiarism or having no respect for intellectual property, I realize that ideas are seemingly finite. Eventually, we will circle back around to something that has been said or done.

It is more important to understand what you are writing about than it is to be entirely original. Plenty of writers have appropriated or adapted works by previous writers. You can’t throw a stone without hitting a movie that’s a remake. You can’t look at the canon without finding someone who has used previous stories. Shakespeare is a well known example of this phenomenon.

The best advice is, if something seems overused at this current moment in history, you are likely going to want to turn to another topic. Anyone who attacks you for being unoriginal or reusing a story (within reason), probably doesn’t know a whole lot about the history of English and American literature. They probably also don’t know – or don’t want to acknowledge – that no two people construct sentences exactly the same way. If you are writing something that is truly your own, that will be evident upon its completion.

Artists feed off of one another. And there’s nothing wrong with expanding on an already existing idea.

You can stop stressing about how original your story is now!

Published by

Alexandra Stanislaw

Alexandra Stanislaw is the Editor-In-Chief and founder of Devise Literary. She is also an Assistant Editor for Hotel Amerika. Her work appears in Crab Fat Magazine ("The Good Friend" and "Tampa Raised You Up"), Ragazine, and Chicago Review of Books.

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