Written by Millionaire’s Digest Team Member: Anthony Cosimini

Founder & Owner of: Mistersherbetlemon

Millionaire’s Digest Team, Contributor, Successful Living Writer

“There are plagiarists everywhere and if I share my idea publicly before it’s legally protected then they’re going to steal it from me! Curse those wretched plagiarists!”

There’s a common misconception among new aspiring writers (and other creators) which has baffled me for some time now.

Picture yourself in this scenario; You have an idea for the next big epic novel you’re going to write and it has everything you’ve ever wanted from a story. It’s got the final piece of the puzzle that you’ve often found other stories lacking and someday, this is going to become your one-way ticket to success! Congratulations to you for coming up with something so brilliant and unique!

Because of this, you neglect to share your idea with anyone. You can’t have people hearing about this surge of creative genius you’ve had or even critiquing it for you or one of them is going to end up stealing it from you. Not only will they steal your idea but the fame and glory destined for you that comes with it.

There are so many things wrong about this way of thinking yet the subject gets brought up constantly, particularly within the writing community. I’ve discussed the folly of this mindset so many times that I feel like Bart Simpson writing line after line of the same text on a blackboard.

So for all those writers and any other creators out there I’ve written it one last time to try and set the record straight.

Why You Can’t Own An Idea

The people who worry about their idea being stolen often spend a deal of time considering how to copyright so let’s look at the definition of copyright and what it applies to.

The definition of copyright is as follows:

“the exclusive right to make copies,license, and otherwise exploit aliterary,musical, or artistic work, whetherprinted, audio, video, etc…

A lot of these poor, mistaken creators believe that their ideas will be left out for the vultures if they share them before acquiring some kind of copyright protection. What they don’t realize is that copyright protection doesn’t extend to concepts, ideas or expressions.

To sum things up, copyright only applies to original completed works. Essentially, if you can sell it as a finished product then it’s yours by right. Only then can you consider it your own intellectual property and have it protected by copyright.

Ideas don’t fit into that category and that’s not a matter up for debate. Ideas aren’t something that can sell on their own, who in their right mind would buy the pitch without the product? Besides, if your idea only extends so far as the pitch then it’s clearly not as unique and valuable as you think it is. At least, not quite yet.

When your idea only extends as far as the pitch, that pitch can be made out to sound like anything else in it’s genre. Do you have an idea for a comedy about the lifestyle of a dysfunctional family? Sounds a little like the Simpsons to me. You want to write about a detective uncovering a conspiracy? You can compare that to more than one Sherlock Holmes story I’m sure. Should that mean that the owners of those popular creations should have the right to your idea? Absolutely not!

It doesn’t mean your idea won’t someday lead to the creation of something truly epic but while it’s just an idea, you have no claim over it. The individuality of your creation will not begin to show until you actually create it. Until then, it’s just an idea, no matter how brilliant you think it is.

Why People Can’t (and Won’t) Steal Your Idea

While you don’t own the idea itself, it’s still worth taking into consideration the people who might be influenced by your suggestion. Everyone is influenced by someone after all, what’s there to say that person can’t be you?

In that sense, you’re right. There’s always a chance that someone will like your idea and try to create their own version of it…But is that really as bad as you think?

Everyone has their own unique creative process that affects how they create in very unique ways. If you’ve ever taken part in a collaboration project or creative group exercise you’ll have seen this for yourself. Give a group of writers the same story pitch and tell them to get writing. You’ll soon find that they all begin the story in very different ways and in their own personal styles. It doesn’t really matter if someone draws influence from your idea because their story will still turn out completely unique from yours!

A plagiarist on the other hand steals and passes off completed work as their own. They do so because they don’t have the talent or commitment to create by themselves. With that logic, who is going to plagiarize your idea when they have to put in time and effort to finish it on their own? That’s simply not what plagiarists do.

If someone is willing to put in that amount of energy into writing a story from scratch by themselves, that’s a writer. Despite what you might think watching the success of J.K Rowling and George R.R Martin, the creative industry isn’t the typical industry for people seeking easy money. There’s much simpler things to plagiarize than a book for fast cash.

I’m sure a lot of creators dream of the day that they manage to make it big but that’s not the driving force that made them choose this career path. They create because they have a passion for it, which means they probably have plenty of their own ideas at the ready without having to use yours. What? Did you think you were the only one with a good idea in your head?

Final Thoughts

You can worry all you like about someone stealing your idea but you’re not the only one who thinks their idea is unique. How awesome you think it will be is completely irrelevant to the rest of the world if it’s only an idea. There’s no story until you write it. If you’re so confident in your idea then get on with turning it into a reality so you can show the world just how awesome it really is!

If you’re having difficulty achieving that then the best thing to do is share it with like-minded people. Let them look at your work and critique it, many of them are going through the same struggles you are. Chances are you’ll teach each other a few things that can make your creations even better than you imagined.

I have no doubt that each and every one of you is capable of turning your ideas into something magnificent but make sure you have your priorities in check. Rather than wasting time hiding your creations, why don’t you just get on with creating it?

If it’s as epic as you think then it’s about time you turned that idea into something people would actually want to steal.

Article Credits: Anthony Cosimini

Millionaire’s Digest Team, Contributor

(For Book, Writing, Beauty Bloggers & More)
  1. Jay Angelo Valmocina 4 years ago

    Wow, thanks for this @Mistersherbetlemon.

    Your article tells much about the same dilemma. I mean, with our modern digital wold nothing is so hard to plagiarize. Everyone can steal your idea or content with no chances of suing them in court.

    Flying bye, greetings from the Philippines!

    You might want to check mine : kuyajsjournal.wordpress.com

    • Author
      mistersherbetlemon 4 years ago

      Plagiarism isn’t hard but by the time it can be truly considered plagiarism, you should have a chance at taking it to court. Share your work but protect your product. 🙂

      I’ll be sure to check it out Jay! Thanks for the kind words!

  2. plutoniumkitten 4 years ago

    So true. I’m always just as baffled at the notion.

    Ideas are ten a penny, and there’s a huge chance twenty other people had the same brilliant idea before independently of the scaredy writer in question. Doesn’t mean they turned it into a story, published or otherwise, but that’s not the point anyway.

    Obviously plagiarism is a huge issue, I see it all the time in the art community where some jerks lift artists’ stuff, remove the credits, and make cash off it without permission. Not cool. Don’t do that.

    But that’s a whole different matter than stealing ideas. Everybody steals ideas from everybody else, and it’s perfectly fine and legal. Because that’s what inspiration is. And that’s a good thing, too.

    Because writing in a vacuum won’t get you far. You’ll end up rotating around your own axis like a drunken planet and your story will likely get pretty boring without at least some input from people out there. At least that’s my own personal experience. Might be different for other people, heh.

  3. thesismathblog 4 years ago

    Very nice article. I really like your outline. Thank you for sharing.

    Unfortunately, in science plagiarism is common. Citing correctly shows ones respect for other peoples work and if you really like the way how a person puts an idea in words, just cite and label it correctly. It is welcomed. I do not understand why it is such a dilemma for people.

    • Author
      mistersherbetlemon 4 years ago

      Very true. However, when it comes to plagiarizing “ideas” there’s no difference in the argument whether it’s creative arts and science. Many people dreamed of flying before the airplane was invented, it’s the execution of the realization of that dream that counts.

      I do agree that crediting your influences is important. Thanks for the wise words!

  4. […] via Your Creativity Is There To Be Shared (4 min read) — The Millionaire’s Digest […]

  5. Engineer IP Dev 4 years ago

    Reblogged this on happy Friday world.

  6. 10minreading 4 years ago


  7. Rabia 4 years ago

    Makes so much sense! I was raised to believe if I was going to write I should never share it with other people but I had to go against this when I took creative writing classes. There were writing critique sessions and I was amazed at how different all our point of views were.

  8. […] via Your Creativity Is There To Be Shared (4 min read) — The Millionaire’s Digest […]

  9. classyqueeny 4 years ago

    Yeah I’ve never thought of it that way. I’m def one of those writers who’s always paranoid about copy rights and what not. Thanks for giving me a new perspective

  10. […] Source: Your Creativity Is There To Be Shared (4 min read) […]

  11. […] via Your Creativity Is There To Be Shared (4 min read) — Millionaire’s Digest […]

  12. amyscha 3 years ago

    I also used to have that mindset not too long ago. But now I agree that you can’t own an idea. I used to think my ideas were unique until I saw them being used in other older stories. So, now I think it’s better to share your ideas with the world.

  13. GANSU 3 years ago

    Thank you for sharing, I agree that creativity is to be shared. Simple example of taking photos, all this time I kept taking photos and we would see it once, after which I wouldn’t know where I have the file saved. After I started blogging, I am happy that I share all my best photos and its out there to see any time I want.

  14. Bhavya Pal 3 years ago

    This post needs to be shared as much as possible. I had these thoughts too at first but now, ever since I started sharing my ideas with my close friends and family, they too give great ideas that work amazingly well. Powerful post ??

  15. prplspecs 3 years ago

    thank you for sharing this.

  16. depatridge 3 years ago

    Reblogged this on Matthews' Blog and commented:
    Great thoughts you have shared here, Tony

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