Idea ether

There's one final thing I want to say about writing contests, and it's a general observation about the "uniqueness" of ideas.

I, like most beginning writers, jealously guarded my ideas, certain they were so unique that they'd be "stolen" if I mentioned them. After a while, I noticed that an idea I'd thought so singular and compelling was already used in a book. In fact, I noticed that my unique ideas appeared in many books, sometimes in different genres.

Time passed and I began to realize that I, an unpublished writer, could think of something and start a manuscript with that premise only to see a new release with the idea already executed and hitting the shelves.

After getting published and beginning to judge writing contests, I was surprised at how many entries seemed to follow trends as far as ideas go. Finally, I realized it wasn't uncommon for writers in different parts of the country to somehow come up with the same premise. I saw this over and over in contests.

In fact, this year I've had an entry from three different contests that involved a famous painting being stolen after the artist was murdered. Even had one about a famous artwork being damaged. Saw two other entries about politicians as hero in romance novels.

After years of seeing such similarities, I've begun to subscribe to the philosophy that there's a creative ether into which anyone can tap. That explains how someone can think of the same thing you thought up. Sound silly? Just read about famous scientists. The American medical researcher who discovered the AIDS virus did so at the same time as a French researcher. In history, you'll read about scientists in different parts of the world who invented the same thing at nearly the same time.

When you get one of those lightning bolt ideas just realize that someone else probably got the same idea. The one who acts first and executes well will be the one who chalks up a success.

Ah, yes. Sometimes, the early bird does indeed get the worm.

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