How to Have Original Ideas Without Being a Damn Copycat

300 hours of footage are uploaded to YouTube every single minute — chances are somebody is doing, or has already done, the very thing you are thinking of doing. 

I know that that statistic can be disheartening, especially if you're an artist who values originality over everything else, but don't let it get you down. Not only is being utterly original kind of a myth, but it's definition is actually more obscure than you'd think. Caleb Pike talks a little bit about this in one of his latest videos, namely how to consistently have fresh ideas by following a simple process (one you might have heard of before, actually). Check it out below: 

Okay, there is no such thing as a formula for creating new ideas, nor is there a process you can go through that will ensure that they will be original. However, Pike does bring up a great point — copying is a fantastic way to learn and grow in your craft. Even Hunter S. Thompson copied The Great Gatsby just to know it felt like to write a great novel! Giving yourself the space you need to not only be creative, but to learn to be creative as well is incredibly important to your journey as an artist.

So, copy privately, adapt according to your medium, and combine to form your own ideas and style — this process will surely help you on the road to greater originality and creativity. 


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The most creative thing you can do is put a twist on a pre-existing idea. For example, you can't get around putting a unite speech in your script but you can change it up. Like mislead your audience into thinking the speech is for an Army of soldiers then reveal that it's a Dad leading some cub scouts.

March 12, 2016 at 8:52PM

Zachary Will

That's a very good point. Genius (and insanity) is connecting two things you normally wouldn't.

March 13, 2016 at 1:44AM

Emil F. Skanning
Writer, Director, Editor

Hahaha, isn't original in it's original meaning referring to not being a copycat? ;)
"How to draw a cirkel without corners." :-p

Anyway, John Cleese has some very interesting things to say about creativity:

March 13, 2016 at 8:20AM

Director, DOP, Writer, Editor, Producer

We are all story tellers, people look alike but we all are very different. My thoughts are to tell the story without making it look like something I've seen before.

March 13, 2016 at 10:14AM

Sammy3 Passamano
Director - DP in the making

The harder it is to do something, the less likely it is that someone else has done it before. Even so, duplication is inevitable. I made this video over 18 months and put it out in August 2014:

A few months later, Benedict Cumberbatch recited the same piece for a BBC promo:

While I'd be chuffed if I think they saw mine and thought it was a good idea, it's far more likely to simply be a coincidence. Still, if I'd waited just a little longer before releasing mine, it would have lost its impact and been seen as a copycat, even though I'd started much earlier.

At the end of the day, creating *something* is worth it, and you'll gain skills along the way. There are more people creating, but it's never been easier to distribute your work, and there are more viewers than ever.

March 13, 2016 at 5:21PM


"copy privately"

that is a good advice ;)

March 14, 2016 at 1:23AM

Sameir Ali
Director of Photography

Can someone explain to me why biopics are considered 'Original Screenplays'? They just aren't original and should definitely be called Adaptations..seriously.

March 19, 2016 at 6:41PM

Justin McLaughlin