7 Ways You Can Borrow Ideas from Others

johnlennon

I wanted to title this post, “Shakespeare and the Beatles stole from their peers, you can too,”  but that's a bit long and cumbersome. (And really, it promotes the wrong idea.)

I'm a firm believer that there aren't new ideas.  What I do believe in is new ways to share ideas– there's YOUR way of sharing them. Reinvention. Your own personal spin and interpretation.  It’s the reason people come to your site after all– for YOUR mark.

Borrowing ideas and reinventing them is what makes art, science, and culture move forward.

Borrowing ideas and reinventing them is what makes art, science, and culture move forward: understanding the ideas of your contemporaries and those that came before you and pushing them to new places.

Shakespeare notoriously borrowed from Christopher Marlowe.  So much so, that some historians have wondered if Marlowe wasn't the author behind Shakespeare's plays.

The Beatles were inspired by Bob Dylan and The Beach Boys. And Chuck Berry. Plus many other artists. “Back in the USSR” took inspiration from The Beach Boys’ “California Girls” and Chuck Berry’s “Back in the USA,” and John Lennon was supposedly sued for using the first line of Chuck Berry’s “You Can’t Catch Me” in The Beatles' “Come Together.”

Vanilla Ice borrowed from Queen and Jessica Simpson borrowed from John Cougar Mellencamp, and the list of artists taking inspiration and ideas from those that came before them? It’s endless.

7 Ways to borrow ideas (without stealing):

  • Borrow from that Famous Painter…. and translate their art to your outfit.
  • Could you write a book in response to your favorite blogger’s recent post?  Do it. Then share it on your site instead of in the comments. Back in ye olden days of blogging, we often wrote response posts, and it was a great way to unite the community.
  • Recreate your favorite outfits from magazines or television using the items in your wardrobe. How can you reinterpret those ideas based on what you own?
  • Mimic a famous photographer’s techniques, but apply it to your outfit photos. High attention to detail and contrasting black and white ala Ansel Adams?  How about the soft focus and simplicity of Julia Margaret Cameron?
  • Use a line from your favorite poem or book (cited, of course!) to begin a post… and let it move you from there.
  • What’s your family heritage? My family is (mostly) British, French, and German.  How would you mesh the traditional clothing from your homelands into a fashion forward look?
  • Inspired by the stunning outfit that Atlantic-Pacific or Sea of Shoes wore recently?  How can you do your own version on a budget? If purchased from a particular store?  What about a plus-size, petite, disabled-body friendly version? All from the thrift store?  There's endless ways to be inspired, but with your own twist. (Just be sure to say “Hey! This look was inspired by this outfit at this site.” Manners, you know?)

This isn't to encourage you to plagiarize or outright steal another person's work, but to encourage you to find inspiration in the work of others and ask, “How would I do that? What would I add to the conversation? How can I make it mine?” and then doing it.

Many have said, “Good artists borrow, great artists steal.”  There are no new ideas in blogging…. just new ways to present the information. Your way.

[Image Credit: Shutterstock.com]

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16 Responses

    • Ashe

      There can be backlash, but in my experience it’s typically because the borrowing blogger:
      – blatantly copied the idea
      – didn’t cite the other blogger as an inspiration
      – didn’t add anything new

      I’ve been inspired by, and linked back to others dozens, if not hundreds, of times over the years, and have never, ever received backlash. Because I respect the other blogger’s original work.

      That being said, I’ve also noticed that a lot of the bloggers who throw a fit? They’re not creating anything new in the first place. They’re getting upset about someone “copying” their work, when they have, in fact, copied others themselves.

      Reply
  1. Alexandria Adair Vasquez

    I like that, questioning what you can add to the conversation. That’s a great way of looking at it! It’s very much the same way you start a research paper, is by making sure it’s relevant and refreshing and new in the field that you want to publish in.

    Reply
    • Ashley "Ashe" Robison

      “It’s very much the same way you start a research paper, is by making sure it’s relevant and refreshing and new in the field that you want to publish in.”

      Yes! That’s a great, great comparison!

      Reply
  2. Julia duMais

    One of the most useful pieces of advice I’ve ever heard on this subject — and I’ve just tracked the source down again, hooray! — is “steal the gem, not the crown”. That is to say, of course you shouldn’t copy another writer word for word. But what you should do is figure out who the writers you most admire are, identify the posts you wish you’d written…and then go even deeper than that.

    Post A by Blogger Z is one of your favorite blog posts ever? Great! Why? What is it that you find so great about it? What is it that you wish you could do as well as Blogger Z did in that post? Find the one kernel that you really love more than anything else about this post, and work with that.

    And, then, even your favorite things aren’t completely perfect. Maybe, now that you think about it, you really would’ve done something a little different with Post A. Maybe you would’ve expanded this part of it, and had less of that. You would’ve linked to this story, too, which relates to one part of it. Before you know it, you really do have something original.

    Reply
    • Ashley "Ashe" Robison

      That piece is STUNNING, Julia! I’m so glad you shared it (and in case others miss the embedded link you posted: http://hollylisle.com/how-to-legally-and-ethically-steal-ideas/)

      “And, then, even your favorite things aren’t completely perfect. Maybe, now that you think about it, you really would’ve done something a little different with Post A. Maybe you would’ve expanded this part of it, and had less of that. You would’ve linked to this story, too, which relates to one part of it. Before you know it, you really do have something original.”

      Thank you for also taking it one step further– how it can inspire us to create more work. That’s great for building up our own links, driving more traffic to our posts, and overall helping our sites grow.

      Reply
  3. Brandy

    Great advice. It is true nothing is completely original, but there is always a way to add your own spin to something. Thanks for the great post!

    Brandy
    willbakeforshoes.com

    Reply
  4. Krystal Orr

    I have been spending a lot of time this week showing love to other bloggers, featuring articles by other fash. bloggers, and I plan to do a little re-blogging next week on WordPress. It has been great for my blog because I already have bloggers reaching out to me to collaborate and do other networking things. I find that in most cases, if you’ve been polite and followed a little blogging etiquette, most bloggers are flattered when you share info they’ve shared.
    I love the idea this article presents. Its so funny how inspiration is all around us! Trying to reinvent the wheel is hard, thankless, and often unfruitful work. But building on an idea or viewpoint can give you so much content.

    Reply
    • Ashley "Ashe" Robison

      “Trying to reinvent the wheel is hard, thankless, and often unfruitful work. But building on an idea or viewpoint can give you so much content.”

      Exactly! No one sets out to reinvent the wheel… they usually set out to improve it or better the design!

      Reply
  5. Hayami

    As an avid reader, I’m going to take your suggestion and try doing some outfits inspired by my favorite literary characters. Thanks a bunch!

    Reply
  6. Elisha

    Someone once said, ” There is nothing new under the sun”.

    Everyone of us, and not only bloggers, get inspired of something everyday. And, that is what results in our actions. Only originality we have is the consistency of our taste./ choice.

    Reply