The Genius Way To Steal Creative Ideas (Without Plagiarizing Them)

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Every idea has been taken.

Everything you can possibly think of, someone has already used it to create content of their own. If you don’t believe me, google it, or search for it on social media.

There are no new ideas. Because of this, many creative individuals struggle to find their uniqueness. Most think they cannot compete with what’s already out there. That’s true; others have already made what you want to make, and it can be a little frustrating.

Does that mean you stop doing what you love? Does it mean there won’t be new writers, painters, artists, and musicians in the future because they won’t have unique ideas?

Definitely not.

Your work becomes unique because you are unique. There is only one you in the world. Your experiences and lessons are different from those of your predecessors. Therefore, your creations can be unique, even if the idea is the same.

The best way to create great work is to steal from others.

It sounds like an unethical statement. How can you steal someone else’s work and become great? That’s a crime.

Hold on!

By “stealing,” I do not mean plagiarizing their work (or idea). That is indeed a crime. You cannot copy someone else’s work and claim it as yours. The laws will punish you if you are guilty of plagiarizing.

So, what does it mean to “steal from others”?

Austin Kleon has written an excellent book about it called Steal Like An Artist, in which he explains the idea behind stealing from your inspirations. Here are some of my favorite quotes from Austin’s book:

“Every new idea is just a mashup or a remix of one or more previous ideas.”

“Copy your heroes. Examine where you fall short. What’s in there that makes you different? That’s what you should amplify and transform into your own work.”

“If all your favorite makers got together and collaborated, what would they make with you leading the crew?”

“Start copying what you love. Copy copy copy copy. At the end of the copy you will find your self.”

Stealing means taking certain things from the greats and mixing them to make your own. As I said, you are a unique individual. Your experiences are unique, and so is your thinking ability. You can find the best work from your heroes and add your elements to improve them.

How to make an idea your own?

Suppose you are a writer lacking “good” ideas. It has kept you from producing new work and doing something you love (write consistently).

You can read some of the best articles by top writers. Look up to your favorite writers and see how they write, what they write, and how they get so many views in their stories. Follow them on social platforms and stalk their work like crazy. Aim to learn as much as possible from them.

Make a list of the headlines of the best articles. Then, pick the ones that resonate with you—something you can write about. Rewrite the headline and article, adding your experiences and opinions. You don’t have to write it the same way as the original writer. Instead, make it your own. Further, you can find similar articles and mix the ideas to produce a better one.

You should ask yourself: How can I improve this article and add more value?

I learned a similar technique in SEO: If you want your article to rank on top of a search engine, find the top results for your keyword first. Read the top three articles that come up on your screen. Then, write a new article that includes more value than those currently at the top.

You can use this technique for other creative work, too. For example, if you want to make a YouTube video about passive income, search for the best ones. Watch the top three videos and re-create them, adding more value. You can also learn what headlines they use (and copy that) and how they approach the audience. Make your video better, providing additional value to the viewers.

Copying from the best will make you the best. Copy until you don’t have to.

If you want to be the best at what you do, learn how to steal from others. Consume what the top creators are doing, follow them, and use the lessons to create something your own.

Every creator has a hero—someone they admire who inspires them to continue doing the work. Identify what makes your heroes the best. Steal from their best work. Do it from multiple creators and add your input. The outcome is your creation.

“Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light, and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speaks directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic.”
— Jim Jarmusch

Once again, don’t plagiarize and copy the work A-Z from someone. Find inspiration from everyone’s work and make it your own.

Fake it till you make it. It means that you steal from others to find your uniqueness. When you have done it several times, you will eventually stop, and it won’t be necessary anymore. It’s because you will have learned everything you need to become the artist you want to be.