Recently I met a writer who said she gave up on the book she was working on because another writer published one with a similar premise.  I don’t know what her story was about in particular, but she was adamant that there would be no reason for her to bother finishing hers.

It got me thinking.  How many books have been published about vampire love stories or teens fighting dystopian governments? A lot.  And I could continue on with the list of similar premises.  Because when readers like a book, they usually want more.

But even working with the same topic or premise, no two writers will end up with the same book.

Because artists have their own style.  Your experiences, your opinions, where you live, who you grew up with, what you do with your day–everything that makes you uniquely well, YOU, weave together and mesh to make up your tone.

It’s your voice and it is influenced by the tapestry of your life.

And we all come to the page, the canvas  or whatever medium with which we create, with our special voices.

For example, check out the difference in perspective on these Alice in Wonderland covers:

 

 

 

 

 

Creativity is open for interpretation.  (more on creativity here in this post.)

 

We writers, as we work our way deeper into our craft, learn to drop more and more personal clues. Like burglars who secretly wish to be caught, we leave our fingerprints on broken locks, our voiceprints in bugged rooms, our footprints in the wet concrete.
~Ross MacDonald

 

Your art is ready for your fingerprints.

 

A part of me wonders if maybe there were other reasons this writer abandoned her story.  Maybe she was afraid of not measuring up. I don’t know.

But I think it’s important as artists to embrace our uniqueness.

Stop comparing and start celebrating.

Because there will never be another YOU.

 

You’ve got to recognize, there will never be another you. It has nothing to do with ego; it happens to be the truth.

There will never be another person the same.

There’ll never be another you.

~Mickey Rooney

 

 

What are your thoughts on the artistic voice?  Do you have any advice for a writer/artist who gets stuck comparing their work to others?

 I love it when you comment, so please share your thoughts!

Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

 

 

 

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50 thoughts on “Embrace Your Artistic Voice, There will Never be Another You

  1. Emily

    You are so right! At this point, I cannot get enough of the dystopian future novels….and no matter the similarities, there are so many different ways to spin a story. Great inspirational post to start the day, Coleen!!!

  2. Emma Burcart

    You are right. Isn’t there some saying about how there are really only so many stories and they have all been told? It’s the way we tell them that makes them our own. Great post!

    1. Coleen Patrick Post author

      I think so too. Fear can be crippling. That I understand which is why I think it’s helpful to focus on one’s strengths and gifts.
      Thanks Jennette!

  3. Stacy S. Jensen

    I know it’s easy to think about giving up on a story. I thought about giving up on an idea when I saw a movie was in production on the same topic. I still plan to write it one day. I tend to hear more people want to rush the process when they hear of similar projects, especially with the ease of self-publishing. One still needs to write and edit his or her best story before sending it out to the world. I agree with Emma about the saying about “so many stories and they have all been told.”
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  4. Susie Lindau

    So true! Avatar, The Emerald Forest, and several others are based on the very same premise. I think that the important thing when writing a book is that it sounds like you. I can’t get into books that are all worded up and fluffly-like no matter what the plot is!
    Great post!

    1. Coleen Patrick Post author

      I totally agree–I feel like I can tell when someone hasn’t put their fingerprint on it. I know they’ve done hard work, maybe even harder supressing their uniqueness!
      Thanks Susie!

    1. Coleen Patrick Post author

      Thanks Natalie. It’s so easy to forget that we are each our own “singular sensation” (I’ve been singing the song from A Chorus Line that has that lyric ALL MORNING!)
      🙂

  5. wosushi

    So many great stories at the core are the same. It’s each individual’s spin and voice that make them different (and interesting).

    Lovely reminder!

  6. Fabio Bueno

    I couldn’t agree more! Well-said. Ideas are important, but voice, tone, style are crucial for a well-told story. We’re unique, as our stories should be. 🙂 Thanks for reminding us all, Coleen!
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  7. Diane Capri

    I agree with everyone else here, Coleen — you’re 1,000% right! On the other hand, I do think it’s not easy to write for the enjoyment of readers, whether we’re trying to use our unique voice or copy another one. Learning to write and putting the work out there is the very important, essential first half of the equation. Don’t you think finding readers who appreciate your work is in many ways much harder?

    1. Coleen Patrick Post author

      That is a GREAT question Diane. I would imagine so, even though I’m not published yet. But going on the depths it takes to create that kind of readership on a blog, then YES.
      Because not everyone is drawn to every voice. I guess being as authentic as possible in every outlet (social media, conferences, anywhere one would interact) can only help a writer attract more of a like minded audience.
      Maybe stalking readers of authors who write similar books? 🙂

  8. Patricia

    What a shame about your friend. Never give up. Besides you might tell the story BETTER than someone else did.

    Recently there have been several television crime-solving type shows with the same premis – a terrosit threatening to unleash a deadly virus to wipe out mankind. Body of Proof did it, Hawaii 5-0 did (in conjunction with NCIS) and next week’s episode of Blue Bloods is the same thing. They’re all good shows and I watch them all. Same concept, different story.

    Good quotes from famous people to repeat to ourselves periodically too.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  9. inluvwithwords

    Another great post, Coleen! I love that Ross MacDonald quote. Thanks so much for sharing it.

    You make a good point. I belonged to a writing group for years. We wrote with a word of the week prompt. It was always interesting to see the different ideas, different stories that each member came up with based on the same word. Indeed, we all bring something different to the page.
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  10. Patricia Tilton

    Coleen, thanks for your post today. Great points. I have a story, that someone published last spring. Although mine is very different, it is around a specific subject. I have to look at it as unique.

  11. Debra Kristi

    I couldn’t agree more. It has been said that there is no original story left. I can’t tell you how many times I have landed on a site, read something and thought, “Wow, that could be tweaked to sound like mine.” But it all comes down to what everyone else said – voice, style, your individuality, etc. Each one will be unique for these reasons. No one should give up because no two stories are ever the same. Thank you for the reminder. I know there are people out there who need it.
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  12. Emily R. King

    I totally agree! This is where narrative voice and character voice are key. You hook the reader with the character, and it’s not a huge deal if the plot is kind of similar to another book already out there. Thanks for the pep talk, Coleen!

  13. Sheila Seabrook

    Maybe it’s a growth thing, Coleen. In my early writing years, I wanted to write historical romances. I vividly remember one in particular. It was set in the Amazon and the writing and the story and the charachters blew me away. It triggered a story of my own, one also set in the Amazon, but I could never write the story because yes, every time I did, I felt so inferior. Fortunately I’ve never encountered this issue again. I think it’s because I found my voice and found the stories I needed to tell. 🙂
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  14. Lynn Kelley

    I completely agree with you, Coleen. Seems like pretty much everything has been done, but each tells the story, their story, in their own unique way. Those are great examples you used with the book covers (very cool, each of them), and the two versions of Barnabus Collins. Eeek! Both are creepy, but Johnny Depp’s version is funny creepy!

  15. Pat O'Dea Rosen

    It’s not unusual for newbie writers to think their story’s success will hinge on a plot twist–and want to rush out and “copyright” it. We learn by experience–and eventually hear and accept the “seven original plots” lesson. That reminds me, I really should mine another one of those original seven.

    Love the way you “showed” your point.

  16. August McLaughlin

    Excellent points, Coleen. I’ve had people ask me what I’d do if someone “stole my premise.” My response has been much like yours: No one can steal a writer’s voice.

    It’s a big deal when we start feeling that we’ve “found” our voice—or tapped into it, depending on how you look at it. For me, that took trusting my instincts—a topic I seem to be borderline obsessed with. 😉 After a major revision on my novel, at my agent’s request, it turned out much like my first draft voice-wise. It also required breaking what many believe to be a writing rule. (Planning to share more on this in a post soon.) Listening to others more than ourselves is a dangerous voice muter, IMHO. Great post!
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    1. Coleen Patrick Post author

      I am often secretive about my work, but mostly in the beginning drafts. It’s mostly that need to keep the creative process close, but it usually comes across as me appearing to be paranoid that someone will steal my idea!
      Look forward to reading your post August!

  17. Kristy K. James...Living, Loving, Laughing

    Great post, Coleen! I try to never compare myself other writers because I am my own worst critic. When I do, mine always seems lacking. But enough other people like it so I’ve stopped (mostly) the comparisons. Those authors wrote the stories they needed to tell, I do the same thing. That’s all any of us can do. 🙂

  18. Karen McFarland

    Excellent post Coleen!

    Bob Mayer said in one of his classes I took that every story has already been told. But what makes it a different story is US! Our story not only has our unique voice, but also may have a different setting and POV. He actually tells you to take a book already out there and make it your own. That’s a bold statement. But it’s true. It’s as you said. If we use a little part of us and instill our voice through our characters, it become a different story. So we need to keep on keeping on. And write. A lot!

    Thanks Coleen! 🙂
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    1. Coleen Patrick Post author

      Wow I never thought about it like that–to take an actual book (rather than simply the premise/plot) and make it our own. That is bold. I like it though. It really shows that we truly are unique and have the capabilities to pull that off! 🙂

  19. Jim Cooney

    Coleen — great post. It’s unreal how many different ways exist for a writer to discourage oneself from writing, and this a big one. I’m working on a novel now that features a neophyte undertaker, and as part of my research I picked up a non-fiction book — half-memoir, half industry perspective — by an undertaker-in-training. I just wanted to mine it for technical information and details, figuring the writing would be mediocre at best. On the contrary, the writing was so beautiful I’m now rattled about my own book, even though they will be very different stories indeed. In a way, I consider this is the best kind of inspiration, to encounter writing so beautiful that it humbles you, even “disables” you, at least for a short while (a former teacher of mine described the best writing that way: disabling).

    So, yes, I agree with you. Most stories, when you boil them down to essentials, have been told a hundred times before. It’s the writer’s voice that makes them new. Although, for practical purposes, I will be outlawing stories about vampires, zombies and dystopian governments when I teach creative writing in the fall! I figure, once they understand how to craft unique, artful prose, they can write all the vampire stories they want, and one or two of them might even turn out okay.

    BTW, my mom is Pat Cooney, who is close friends with your mom. 🙂

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