How many ideas are really original?

It is quite valid to imitate other ideas as a preparatory step to original thinking. Try what all the "great" creators have done: imitate, imitate, imitate. After you have imitated enough, you will find your preferences shape what you are doing into a distinct style. Originality is a natural result of sincere creative pursuit.

Isaac Newton said:

"If I have seen farther it is by standing on the shoulder of giants".

Just as the Beatles started out playing cover tunes, J.S. Bach went blind in his old age copying scores of other musicians (for personal study), Beethoven played on the themes of his time, and Jazz musicians insert popular melodies into the middle of bizarre atonal solos. Ideas are constantly on the move, much to the annoyance of patent & copyright lawyers! Certainly, ideas may be exploited by the materially minded, just like anything else. But if you truly comprehend an idea, it is yours.

Dean Willian R. Inge said:

"What is originality? Undetected plagiarism."

T. S. Eliot said:

The immature poet imitates; the mature poet plagiarizes.

Last updated: 26th October 1996