Most writers are avid readers, or so I have always assumed. Perhaps there are statistics out there somewhere to prove it one way or another, but I know it is true for me. Though I love to read and write in the same genres, I sometimes fear I will inadvertently use the ideas of other authors, unaware they were not original to me. I can’t always remember where and when I was exposed to a great idea or concept, so I end up including them in my own writing, all the while patting myself on the back for my creativity.
So what is the solution? Cut back or stop reading the genres in which I write? Keep detailed records of cool ideas from other authors so I don’t accidentally use them in my own work later on? Leave a disclaimer in every book such as: “This story may include ideas from other authors. If they are yours, please excuse the borrowed content”?
One of my favorite authors said it this way, “That which has been is that which will be, and that which has been done is that which will be done. So, there is nothing new under the sun.” Solomon (Ecclesiastes 1:9) In other words, the wonderful concepts and ideas found in another writer’s work cannot be said to be 100% unique – it’s all been seen and heard before in one way or another.
Don’t misunderstand – plagiarism is always wrong! I would never knowingly claim someone else’s work as my own, but the content of my writing draws directly from the sum total of all my life – everything I have seen, heard, thought, experienced and read. Hopefully, though, I can bring a fresh twist to old ideas and create something which is not entirely new, but newer under the sun.
Authors – what do you think? Are you concerned your reading material may unduly influence your writing?