Stop Trying to Come Up with the Most Original Story Idea Ever

There is no such thing as an original idea.

We have all fallen into the familiar trap of believing our story ideas aren’t good enough.

Too many writers also spend a lot of time wondering if the idea that’s in their head is as original as it could be.

Maybe you’ve somehow convinced yourself that one day, you’re going to be able to write something no one has ever thought of before. And that will make all your dreams come true.

Guess what? In some capacity, if you’re thinking of it, it’s already been done.

The point of storytelling is not to come up with an original idea. It is to take an idea and craft an original story using that idea as a foundation.

If you constantly shoot down your own ideas because they’ve “already been done,” you’re never going to get anything written.

Think of how many Cinderella adaptions there are. Or all fairytale-based pieces of media, for that matter. The original Cinderella story is nothing like that Disney cartoon you grew up watching. They are two completely different versions of the same idea.

The trick is to keep writing. Because the longer you do it, the better you get at figuring out how to build a unique story using pieces of ones you’ve read before.

Give up this desire you have to write “the next big thing” or “the most novel novel ever.” Anything you write will contain traces of stories everyone is already familiar with. That’s not what makes or breaks a story. What makes or breaks a story is the way you write it, and the way you develop the characters, and the story’s purpose and message.

Basing your story off of another person’s idea does not mean you are not creative. If anything, writing another Cinderella story forces you to be more creative, because you have to figure out how you can spin it to give it a new angle.

Of all the things you could obsess over when constructing your next story, this one just isn’t worth it.

Instead, focus on crafting a story that’s relatable, emotional, and exciting. Find that one element of a familiar story arc and figure out how to twist it around to surprise your audience. There are a dozen ways you can take an idea you’re afraid isn’t original enough and make a decent story out of it.

You never know where an idea is going to take you. Don’t let doubt stop you from exploring. The best writers are the ones willing to try anything, whether they end up failing or not.

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.

Hey! I’m vlogging my way through NaNoWriMo. Here’s yesterday’s video.

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8 thoughts on “Stop Trying to Come Up with the Most Original Story Idea Ever

  1. I have just started to follow you and your blog posts like this one is telling me something I need to hear as a writer! Thank you! I very much enjoy reading your posts!

  2. A quote I just recently came across:

    “There are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before.” – Willa Cather

  3. I have a great to share,and I have some great dialogues too between me and my friends.They are so unique and great,but at the same time , I am stopping my self from its progress.At the same time I know that this is going to be great story,but somehow I still didn’t put it on a paper.They are only on my private facebook page.What should I do,cause I enjoy every single minute of it?

    1. Sometimes we keep our writing to ourselves – that’s okay. If you aren’t ready to share yet, you don’t have to. Enjoy writing. Enjoy the process. That’s still important!

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