Tuesday, June 12, 2012

15 Habits of Great Writers: Steal

Good artists copy. Great artists steal.—Picasso

Today Jeff Goins reminds us that "great artists borrow from other artists. They meld together pieces of the chaotic mess we all call life, and they end up with a whole new creation.

When a reporter asked Bono how U2 got their unique sound, he replied (to paraphrase), 'We were just trying to copy everyone else, but we weren’t good enough. This is what came out.'"

I have gotten inspiration from many different places...very few of them original.  I have been inspired by actual events and NPR news stories that I then put my own personal spin on.  Sometimes another writer's title gives me an idea.  In fact, I even admit to sitting down with a favorite picture book and stealing the format page by page. 

The key is to get the inspiration and then abandon the very thing that inspired you.  Let your own voice take over.

On Jeff Goins' blog today, he gives the following challenge:

Find a quote or a painting or some form of inspiration — and steal it. Make it your own. Attribute it — give credit where it’s due — but don’t be afraid to use it. Let someone else’s work springboard you into your own.

Give up on your pursuit of originality and genius and just find something that inspires you. Borrow from your friends and heroes and mash it all up into something that looks, feels, and sounds like you.

Who knows? You may find a style all of your own. You may even find — as Bono did — that a whole group of people end up copying you… as you copy someone else.

Happy Writing...and stealing!  :)


  1. Oh, I love this post! Especially the Picasso quote. Because I have been stealing like mad lately!

  2. Such a great idea. From this year's Highlights Fiction Contest, I learned to steal from funny newspaper headlines. The newspaper has a story about the headline, but often there's a pictures book in there, too.

  3. Marcie, we'd best compare notes. I've found many of my favorite PB ideas on NPR!

  4. ~~~~Sooo True.
    Some of my greatest writing mentors made me into the writer I am today. I am better because of their stories & words!