Recently, I started trying to rework a writing project I’d put on the back burner for a while, replotting it according to the really useful beat sheet from Jessica Brody’s Save The Cat Writes A Novel. I loved the concept of the novel, but just wasn’t a fan of what I’d written so far, so I decided to start again and was pretty excited about my new outline. I started working on it, and was feeling good about this new version…
But then the other day I randomly became aware of a new release that sounds very similar to the book I’m attempting to write, and it kind of knocked me for six. The concept I’d loved so much I wanted to have a second attempt at writing has already been written, published, and read by plenty of people.
Obviously, this is an unfortunate coincidence, and let’s face it: pretty much every idea has been done before. But there’s still something quite deflating about coming across a book that has a very similar concept to yours, and it has left me wondering what to do with my book.
I mean, do I carry on? It’s not exactly like it would be the same book: it would be written in my voice, and populated by my characters etc. And I’ve already pumped so much work into it, getting to the 80,000-word mark with my first draft, replotting it and rewriting the first 8,000 words.
But at the same time, I don’t feel excited about it anymore, knowing my concept isn’t as unique as I thought. The concept was the book’s hook, but now it will just be something people have already seen before if I was ever lucky enough to get it published (which in itself might be hampered by the fact that there’s a similar book out there).
This is probably a really stupid thing to worry about, as there are so many books out there that are comparable to others, or even obviously take direct inspiration from others (which mine obviously wouldn’t) that people still enjoy. It’s not like I thought I was some super genius who had come up with something no one had ever thought of before, but I can’t deny it’s sapped my inspiration for the project a little.
But if I started a new project the exact same thing could happen, because these things do (although I do already have a brand new idea nagging at me…). I’ve seen this on a small scale with blogging: I’ll write a post and be pretty pleased with it, only to realise someone else in my blogging circle posted something similar a day or so earlier. These things happen because there’s only so many ideas out there, but everyone can bring their own unique perspective, which is amazing. But then no one wants to look like they copied, or ripped off someone else’s idea…
So I’d be interested to get some thoughts on this! Has this ever happened to you? What did you do about it? Should I carry on, or get to work on my new idea?