As a writer who is serious about her work, I find plagiarism to be a constant fear in my mind. From the songs that I listen to when I write, to the authors and books that I admire, they are all bits and pieces that become a part of who I am, and therefore become a part of my book.
But, I am absolutely petrified that they will become a part of my book that isn't fair to the original creator. What if my character says something that is exactly a lyric from a song? Or maybe I'll use a very specific word that in the same way that John Green or Tommy Wallach did. The problem isn't even if someone would notice, it's that it terrifies me to mimic someone else, because I would hate it if someone did it to me.
And let's move past the elementary school kid response of imitation is the highest form of flattery, because let's face it, it's not. When you're a kid and you copy the person next to you, it's because they're next to you. Not every person who will ever sit next to you is going to be the smartest bulb in the bunch.
But, as a writer, it is a form of flattery, but its unconscious.
I am always afraid.
I find that it is a lot harder for me to come even remotely close to plagiarism if I am reading a book that is a completely different genre than the one I am writing.
For example, currently I am writing a literary fiction YA book. So, I am reading Mindy Kaling's book "Why Not Me?" These book have virtually nothing in common with one another.
However, this habit of mine gets in my own way sometimes.
The problem is that I can be writing a book that I like. That's great. It's hard to like your own work. It really is, so when I do like my own work, it's remarkable. But, I will always (okay maybe not always)
I will probably, most-likely, for the foreseeable future think that whatever book I am reading or whatever type of writing I am consuming (newspaper, articles, magazines, screenwriting) is significantly better than whatever I am writing.
Take last night for example, I get home from a long day of work. I like my book, I really do, but I was watching Scandal. Don't worry, as always if there are spoilers they will be marked.
Anyways, as anyone who knows anything about popular TV Shows will know, they are usually very high-stakes. And there's no way my book about four high schoolers dealing with suicide and depression are going to have the high-stakes situations of those in the White House. There just isn't a way.
Then, I think about one of the best books I've read in a while, An Ember in the Ashes. There are some serious high stakes in there. It's great.
I want my books to have that amazing fantastical appeal to it. I do, I want that more than anything. But, it's just the same thing when I'm writing a fantasy and I read Literary Fiction. Then, I want my book to be like Eleanor and Park. It's a viscious cycle.
Sometimes, I just want to yell at myself to stay out of my own business.
I don't really have a solution for this. Because it's something that I face every time. But, I do have a tip, and maybe I'll have more sometime, but today my tip is this: Stick to one project. Just finish one, and then do the other. You can have your high stakes and your perfectly ordinary romance, just take your time.
Believe me, its a tip I'm trying to take myself.