How To Steal An Article Idea And Get Away With It

I had a bad case of writers block last week.  For the life of me I couldn’t think of a single thing to write.  We have all been there and we all know how frustrating it can be.  Most of the time we just soldier on and distract ourselves with the mundane until inspiration visits us again.  I call this the Duality of Writing: the pain and the ecstasy.

But sometimes we don’t have the luxury of waiting out writer’s block.  Sometimes we have a deadline beating the door down.  Desperate times call for desperate measures.

So, I stole an idea for my article.

‘Thief!’ I hear you cry.  Well, I did mention I was desperate right?  And I didn’t steal an article.  It was just an idea.  Not word for word but the core idea.  The gist of it.  You can do this too and it isn’t plagiarism.

Think of it as a seed.  I stole a seed.  It may have been someone else’s seed but I took it and planted it.  I watered the seed and protected it from scavenging crows.  I nurtured the seed into a seedling, through frost and midday sun, until it grew full size.

The work was all mine but is that enough?  Let me give you the sordid details.

I was trawling through my RSS Feed awaiting the arrival of my inspiration when I found an idea.  The idea in question was in the Copyblogger feed; one of the biggest blogging websites on the Internet.  I saw an article headline and thought to myself, ‘I could write about that’.  And I blatantly took the idea from the headline.

To my credit I purposefully didn’t read the article.  I didn’t want to cloud my head with the words of another writer.  I didn’t even skim it.  Instead I sat down and brainstormed exactly what it was I knew about the topic and wrote my first draft.

Writer’s block had been banished for the day but I felt guilty.  Is this what I had become?  A plagiarist?  I had to go and see how similar the two articles were.  I was afraid mine would be too close for comfort.

And yet, ironically, when I went back later to actually read the Copyblogger article, the very article I thought I had ripped off, I found it was really about something completely different.

It seems seeds have a way of growing their own way in different environments.  In my hands the article grew up to be a very different thing to the article Copyblogger came up with.  In the writing world nurture really does win out out over nature.

Perhaps I committed the perfect crime?