I have this little thing I like to do. When I visit a blog post, read an article or have a conversation that provides the inspiration for a blog post I post “Credit where it’s due” at the top of the post with the story behind my inspiration. I do this because I want readers to explore all sides of the story, form an opinion and participate in the discussion. The web provides so many areas for inspiration, it’s only fair to give props to all players. I also do it to hold myself accountable. I want to inspire without copying. If I know I’m sending readers to the original discussion, I’m going to be sure to provide a different take. The last thing I want is to be pointed out as a cheap imitation.
Inspiration is a funny thing, though. As I look around I realize, sometimes writers come awfully close to a full out copycat situation. They may have been inspired by another writer, but only succeeded in echoing the other person’s thoughts and ideas. Inspiration is terrific, imitation, well, it’s not very creative or original.
They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, what do you think about that? It’s one thing to imitate a style of dress or even to lightly mimic a friend in jest. However, copying someone without giving credit or adding your own point of view is a whole other story.
How do you get from inspiration to final result without imitation?
Let’s work it out together.
- If you’re drawing inspiration from another story, be sure it’s because you want to put a different spin on the topic. List the points you agree with, the items you’re not feeling, and how it relates to your readers. Why did this writing or situation inspire you? What did you take away from it? Do you think there’s an area the original writer or speaker missed? There’s a reason it caught your eye. This is what you want to talk about.
- Read your article or blog post and compare it to your inspiration. Ask yourself if anything is different from the original. If you’re copying or echoing, you may want to reconsider publishing. What are you saying that hasn’t already been said?
- Create an opposing point of view. You can be inspired yet disagree. See what happens when you explore the other side of the coin. Create a link-worthy cross discussion.
How do you keep inspiration from becoming imitation? What do you do to draw upon another source, yet remain fresh and original?