Don’t Worry About Other Writers Stealing Your Ideas

[found on]
“As most of you who follow me on Twitter probably know, I participated in #pitmad last Friday. For those of you who don’t know, #pitmad is Twitter pitch fest, where writers pitched their completed manuscripts to agents and editors in 133 characters (to make room for the hashtag).
It was a fun event, and a great opportunity for writers. If you haven’t participated in a pitch event before, I highly recommend you check it out the next time one comes around.

I noticed, however, that there were a few negative Nancies out there who would pop into the #pitmad stream ever so often and make a snarky remark to the effect of “I’m not sharing my idea so that another writer can steal it and make millions.”I’m not looking down on these people—in fact, I understand where their fear comes from. When I first started writing, I too shared a fear of having my ideas (or other writings) stolen online. For the longest time I didn’t participate in any sort of competitions or online critiques because my skittishness got the best of me.But then I started getting more involved in the interwebs, and wrote a lot more, and the ridiculousness of this fear became very apparent to me.The thing is, sharing your pitch is probably the safest, least-risk inducing way of getting your work noticed. Why? The answer is simple: your idea is just an idea.

I’m not trying to demean your work, but an idea isn’t copyrightable (and if you don’t believe me, the government says so). Truth be told, original ideas don’t exist, and even if your idea somehow defied that rule, it still wouldn’t matter if someone stole it.

Why? Because as anyone who has tried to write a novel before knows, an idea is just an idea. It’s the seed of a novel, but it’s just that. Even if someone stole your completely original, totally brilliant idea, they’d still have to write a book to match up to that brilliance. And hell, maybe they would. Maybe they’d write it better than you did. But their book wouldn’t plagiarize your idea any more than Richelle Mead plagiarized Stephanie Meyers, or Meyers plagiarized Anne Rice, or Rice plagiarized Bram Stoker.

You see, they all wrote books based on a somewhat similar concept, but they wrote their own novels. They each wrote something different, because they each had a different take on a similar idea.

Anyone who has taken a writing class ever knows this very well: if you give a room full of students the same idea to write about, they will all write something different. Will there be similarities? Sure. But does that mean they somehow stole from each other? Does that mean their work shouldn’t be considered their work, or that it shouldn’t be considered original? Of course not.

The thing is, even if someone liked your pitch so much that they decided they wanted to write a book just like it, it wouldn’t matter. You’re already ahead of the game: you have a completed manuscript ready for pitching and they’re just scraping together ideas for a rough draft. And whatever they come up with based off of those 140 characters, I promise you, will be verydifferent from whatever you wrote. And, there’s still the whole matter of getting it published, which, as you already know, isn’t so easy. So.

If you have to worry about something, worry about having your writing stolen if you post online. Worry about someone copying your blog posts and republishing them under their own name. Worry about people pirating your work and selling it for a profit.

But as for someone stealing your ideas? Don’t waste your energy.”

[found on]

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