Friday, July 22, 2011

You Are NOT a Snowflake

Last night I was reading an article about a movie that looked interesting.  It's called IN TIME.  This is what I read:

In Time is Timberlake’s next big picture, and the premise plays out a lot like a modernized riff on Logan’s Run. He stars opposite Amanda Seyfried as a man in a dystopian future where time has become the only currency.
Immediately, I started yelling at Matt, who was just sitting on the couch, minding his own business.  It was MY idea.  I'd come up with that.  Me.  For the next hour, I searched through my notebooks until I finally remembered that I'd emailed the idea to myself.  On February 2, 2010, I sent myself the following email:

A world in the future where the only real currency is time. A person knows how long they'll live when they're born (ex. 22 years 8 months 7 days 18 hours 23 minutes 2 seconds) and that's the currency you have. The protagonist needs help for his sick mother and trades all but one week of his life to save her. In the process he meets a girl who mAkes him want to find a way to get back the lost hours of his life.
Of course, the first thing I figured was that Google was out there reading my email and passing off all my best ideas.  Which, itself, might make a good plot.  I learned more about the movie and found out that the only similar plot point is the idea of time as currency.  I was still disappointed because I'd never done anything with the idea, but it hits home a point that I don't think a lot of writers really, truly get:  Your ideas are not unique.

Somewhere out there, someone has had the same idea as you.  They're writing out YOUR ideas in THEIR notebook.  And there's nothing you can do about it.

What matters is timing and execution.  Timing is simple.  If you have an awesome idea, write it.  There will never be a better time to write it than now.

Execution is what editors and agents will tell you is key.  Ten people can have the same idea, but if yours is done better--the writing is tighter, the characters are full and unique, the angle is something they haven't seen before--then yours is the idea that'll sell.  Look at vampires.  The market is flooded with them.  They're definitely not unique.  But the way people use them is.  And that's what continues to sell.

So....what's the point?  The point is the same as it's always been:  if you want to be a writer, you've got to get out there and write the best damn story you can.  Not later, not tomorrow.  Now.


  1. The reason you have to start on an idea immediately is that thought (ideas) exists in a physical state, and can be picked up by perceptive people.

    No. I'm not on drugs. Not right now.

  2. Yeah, I had the same idea too. The stars are not aligned for us, lol.

  3. This post struck a chord with, so I tweeted it.

  4. Matthew: I actually know exactly what you're saying here. Sometimes I feel like I'm less coming up with ideas than I'm pulling ideas from the collective subconscious.

    Jonathon: LOL! See, I knew I wasn't the only one.

    Kristal: Thank you!


Keep it clean, keep it classy, and jokes are always appreciated.