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Why I hesitate to seek writing advice on a public forum (1 Viewer)

Questionable

Senior Member
The title is a statement but I also want to know if other people feel the same way as I do.

I'm a procrastinator. I am working on writing my first book but I get nervous, disenchanted, or distracted - it's a flaw that takes me away from my work. I believe that I have some very good story ideas and I also need advice from people who know more than I do, but inevitably, I decide not to share anything I have going on. It's hard not to get a little worried about someone coming across my thread about an unfinished project, seeing an idea they like, and plucking it wholesale. It's one thing to simply copy from an existing book, because it comes off as extremely cheap and lazy, but to select things you like from projects that may never see the light of day is another. Much easier to get away with in the public eye. Does anyone else feel this way, or is it just me being unnecessarily protective of my work and ideas? Is this concern warranted?
 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
The title is a statement but I also want to know if other people feel the same way as I do.

I'm a procrastinator. I am working on writing my first book but I get nervous, disenchanted, or distracted - it's a flaw that takes me away from my work. I believe that I have some very good story ideas and I also need advice from people who know more than I do, but inevitably, I decide not to share anything I have going on. It's hard not to get a little worried about someone coming across my thread about an unfinished project, seeing an idea they like, and plucking it wholesale. It's one thing to simply copy from an existing book, because it comes off as extremely cheap and lazy, but to select things you like from projects that may never see the light of day is another. Much easier to get away with in the public eye. Does anyone else feel this way, or is it just me being unnecessarily protective of my work and ideas? Is this concern warranted?
Absolutely! Always protect your ideas. You can find ways to conceal the best part of your work and still inquire. If you are asking a question, stay away from the specifics of the idea that you think are original. Or, make up a similar scenario that has the same issue. It's hard sometimes because you want to share the stuff you're proud of and get some instant recognition. I have actually typed out questions and then deleted them before posting. So yes, I do feel very protective. So that answers the second part of your thread.

You mention being a procrastinator and getting, disenchanted or distracted. That's a completely different issue. It sounds like you are suggesting that in order to go forward, you need advice from others who know more than you do. That's fine, you can find a lot of the answers here, either by posting a thread or reading other people's threads. You can even find a lot by simply googling it. You would be amazed at how many writers struggle with the same issues. BUT, what disenchants or distracts you?
 

Theglasshouse

WF Veterans
Well my intentions are harmless, and I don't intend to copy anyone. It's how you express the ideas that is copyrighted and in my humble opinion it is not lazy to read a book to model the sentence and paragraph. Some of us can't leave the house and so in my case I need a library to know facts. But I would not copy the plot or characters. If you replace all the nouns in a paragraph and left it the paragraph the verbs I might say it works for me since it is facts I am after. This is just my opinion. Also, according to a book I read there are authors that do this safely. There are multiple benefits to reading I'd imagine such as to stimulate the imagination.

Don't worry about people stealing your ideas since I doubt most people will resort to stealing it. This is usually the case. There's a book called plotto that is full of ideas people have done. I never picked it up since I felt I wanted to be creative. There's also clones off plotto. So no I don't think the fear is warranted in my opinion. Remember not all ideas become popular. People will not risk stealing people's ideas especially since there is little that is considered unique in the writing world.
 
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Questionable

Senior Member
(This first paragraph gets a little dark at first because I want to be honest, just be warned.) I realize that everyone has baggage in their lives that they deal with, some better than others. Without giving too much information I was hospitalized at a startlingly young age for self-harm due to complications with depression. There have been a few other times as well. So, mental issues are something I deal with on a daily basis. For a week I could feel like the world will end tomorrow and on monday of the next week I'll be walking on a cloud for about 5 hours until something clicks inside me and I'm back to the dumps for the rest of the week.

I beat myself up about almost everything and as silly as it sounds, it really feels like it's out of my own hands at least some of the time, if not most of the time. I recently posted as a reply on another post that I'll have short but incredible highs for 1-2 days at a time where I'll write more than I do in the rest of the year, followed by a low that can last weeks or months. Absolutely fantastic ideas (that I still think are fantastic even when I'm feeling bad about myself) due to sudden inspiration, then I flatline and I can't think of... Anything. It has a way of getting to me.

I can't really say for sure what my need is. I haven't ever written anything with any serious intent before and while I know that writing can largely be subjective, there's a reason a lot of people try to have writing buddies or communities or groups to go to for their craft... A single person alone has a way of generating "blind spots" that others could catch, like... A safety net of sorts. You know, "you switched perspectives here," or "this seems pretty similar to this other major series I read," things like that. I like what I have but I only have one way of looking at it naturally, other ways of thinking are hard to generate on the fly to catch issues. I'd never see some things that some of you might, and perhaps vice-versa, because everyone's different.

I've rewritten all of this at least three times now. It's very hard for me to even understand why I'm having problems. I probably need a therapist or something.

Edit: Thanks for the input so far. It's giving me some good food for thought, and I think that maybe sharing some of the more basic building blocks of my story in a different thread (hijacking this one for that purpose would be weird) might help, because ultimately, I don't feel like I can ever be completely sure they're good without other viewpoints. After all, it is public opinion that defines a work's popularity and acceptance.
 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
I can't really say for sure what my need is. I haven't ever written anything with any serious intent before and while I know that writing can largely be subjective, there's a reason a lot of people try to have writing buddies or communities or groups to go to for their craft... A single person alone has a way of generating "blind spots" that others could catch, like... A safety net of sorts. You know, "you switched perspectives here," or "this seems pretty similar to this other major series I read," things like that. I like what I have but I only have one way of looking at it naturally, other ways of thinking are hard to generate on the fly to catch issues. I'd never see some things that some of you might, and perhaps vice-versa, because everyone's different.
Ok, I understand this. Perhaps you want to pick one of your ideas that is not so dear to you and use it to post questions here. Then as you learn you can apply the lessons to your other ideas that you fear may be copied.
I've rewritten all of this at least three times now. It's very hard for me to even understand why I'm having problems. I probably need a therapist or something.
It sounds like you are a bit of a perfectionist. That is a good quality for a writer. But stop questioning yourself. This is all good!
Edit: Thanks for the input so far. It's giving me some good food for thought, and I think that maybe sharing some of the more basic building blocks of my story in a different thread (hijacking this one for that purpose would be weird) might help, because ultimately, I don't feel like I can ever be completely sure they're good without other viewpoints. After all, it is public opinion that defines a work's popularity and acceptance.
Yes, I recommend you start with that. There are a number of good forums for this. Plot and Characters is a good one to start, and you can post some of your work on the Fiction Workshop for an in-depth critique. I look forward to seeing your work.
 

Questionable

Senior Member
Ok, I understand this. Perhaps you want to pick one of your ideas that is not so dear to you and use it to post questions here. Then as you learn you can apply the lessons to your other ideas that you fear may be copied.

It sounds like you are a bit of a perfectionist. That is a good quality for a writer. But stop questioning yourself. This is all good!

Yes, I recommend you start with that. There are a number of good forums for this. Plot and Characters is a good one to start, and you can post some of your work on the Fiction Workshop for an in-depth critique. I look forward to seeing your work.
Thank you. I'll see what I feel comfortable sharing there and try my best to share well. I'll probably loosen up a little over time - at least I hope so.
 

Foxee

Patron
Patron
Hi, Questionable, nice to meet you. You're welcome here and if writing is your interest you've found a community of your people.

While it's possible for someone to lift ideas for themselves from your work it's more of a fear than a reality. For one thing, people are pretty excited about their own ideas. For another, an idea can be written so many different ways that even if someone else copied an idea they'd write it totally differently than you would.
 

Lawless

Senior Member
It's hard not to get a little worried about someone coming across my thread about an unfinished project, seeing an idea they like, and plucking it wholesale. [---] Does anyone else feel this way, or is it just me being unnecessarily protective of my work and ideas? Is this concern warranted?

Unnecessarily protective.

When you have an idea for a comedy sketch, it's absolutely possible that someone uses it for his own sitcom, claiming the idea as his own. That's a real threat.

Also, there is some danger when you reveal, say, the idea for a future weapon no one in the world has ever thought of before.

When you, however, share some general ideas, it's highly unlikely anyone will steal them.

A copycat who, for instance, uses your world because he can't think of one of his own, is likely to be too poor a writer to actually complete a novel. Even if he does complete it, it's likely to be unpublishably bad. After all, your world he stole is only a very small part of the work. He'll need to make up a multitude of scenes and details. When he doesn't have enough creativity to think of an interesting world, he won't have enough creativity to think of interesting characters and events either.

When however, someone like Stephen King sees your idea and thinks: wow, I'll use it in a book, then it's highly likely that he'll end up twisting it to the point you won't recognize it yourself in his completed novel. After all, a brain as creative as Mr. King's just won't stay in the tracks laid out by you. Your idea will be nothing than a starting point to get his own imagination running. At the end of the day, you can still write the novel you had planned, and there's hardly a danger anyone will notice the similarity and suggest ignorantly you imitated Stephen King.

Your twin brother stealing your idea – that would be something to really worry about. Other people are likely to be either too uncreative to be able to use your idea, or think too differently from you to really ruin anything for you.
 

Mark Twain't

Staff member
Board Moderator
@Questionable

Yes, I know exactly where your are coming from. I'm very cagey about what I share online. The last thing I want is to publish my work to find that someone else has beaten me to it.

Of course , there is the old saying 'there's nothing new under the sun' bit that doesn't mean there aren't any new ideas. The way you present something comes from the heart, no-one else has your heart. That's why it's obvious if someone has copied your work.
 

KatPC

Senior Member
Very well put @Lawless

In essence I think @TheMightyAz is correct. There is very little new ideas, alot are remodels of a set format with different settings.

Never fear @Questionable ... I hold the same worry as you, someone waiting to steal ideas, but take it as a compliment, someone has been taken in by your story ...

In the end no one can write the same lines, your story will be unique to yourself. Don't be too hard on yourself, don't worry about asking for help, know that everyone has good intentions even if words may not seem that way.

It doesn't matter if you taken time to compose your reply a few times, that is very normal.
 

bdcharles

Wɾ¡ʇ¡∩9
Staff member
Media Manager
The title is a statement but I also want to know if other people feel the same way as I do.

I'm a procrastinator. I am working on writing my first book but I get nervous, disenchanted, or distracted - it's a flaw that takes me away from my work. I believe that I have some very good story ideas and I also need advice from people who know more than I do, but inevitably, I decide not to share anything I have going on. It's hard not to get a little worried about someone coming across my thread about an unfinished project, seeing an idea they like, and plucking it wholesale. It's one thing to simply copy from an existing book, because it comes off as extremely cheap and lazy, but to select things you like from projects that may never see the light of day is another. Much easier to get away with in the public eye. Does anyone else feel this way, or is it just me being unnecessarily protective of my work and ideas? Is this concern warranted?
I'm far too bone idle to do that. But I understand your concern. I guess in most cases ideas are ten a penny, but in cases where they're not, even the most amazing plot will likely sink without trace if the writing is crap.

That said, if you are concerned, simply take time to get to know people and build up trust. Personally I can vouch for this site as a pretty solid bunch with whom I've shared much work and I've googled and I've googled and clearly no-one has bothered stealing my stuff yet! ;)
 

Lawless

Senior Member
One ought to be reasonably cautious, but forgoing the potential benefits from other like-minded people's advice doesn't sound like a good idea.

Apart from which, the best way to gain clarity about something is by explaining it to someone else.
 

Terry D

Retired Supervisor
The title is a statement but I also want to know if other people feel the same way as I do.

I'm a procrastinator. I am working on writing my first book but I get nervous, disenchanted, or distracted - it's a flaw that takes me away from my work. I believe that I have some very good story ideas and I also need advice from people who know more than I do, but inevitably, I decide not to share anything I have going on. It's hard not to get a little worried about someone coming across my thread about an unfinished project, seeing an idea they like, and plucking it wholesale. It's one thing to simply copy from an existing book, because it comes off as extremely cheap and lazy, but to select things you like from projects that may never see the light of day is another. Much easier to get away with in the public eye. Does anyone else feel this way, or is it just me being unnecessarily protective of my work and ideas? Is this concern warranted?
Yours is a common fear among new writers, but it is completely unfounded. We get into this strange world we call writing because we want to create, because we have our own stories to tell, not to glean ideas from other new writers. Even if your story inspired someone else to try the same thing, their end product would be nothing like yours because it would go through the filters of their experience, their background, and the way they learned to use language. After all, Jaws was inspired by Moby Dick, Stephen King's 'Salem's Lot by Dracula, and how many stories have been inspired by Romeo and Juliette do you think? People don't lurk around looking to steal ideas, they are too busy writing their own (it takes far more effort and dedication to actually write a story than it does to come up with an idea). And, even if they did hijack your concept, they can't do to your idea what you can do. The sooner you quit worrying about idea theft and start focusing on story creation the better off you will be.
 

bdcharles

Wɾ¡ʇ¡∩9
Staff member
Media Manager
Yours is a common fear among new writers, but it is completely unfounded. We get into this strange world we call writing because we want to create, because we have our own stories to tell, not to glean ideas from other new writers. Even if your story inspired someone else to try the same thing, their end product would be nothing like yours because it would go through the filters of their experience, their background, and the way they learned to use language. After all, Jaws was inspired by Moby Dick, Stephen King's 'Salem's Lot by Dracula, and how many stories have been inspired by Romeo and Juliette do you think? People don't lurk around looking to steal ideas, they are too busy writing their own (it takes far more effort and dedication to actually write a story than it does to come up with an idea). And, even if they did hijack your concept, they can't do to your idea what you can do. The sooner you quit worrying about idea theft and start focusing on story creation the better off you will be.
I tell you, I've had far more issues with things like book reviews and formatting. I'm finding that once we writers are at the stage of spending money to move a completed product, every Johnny Weirdo comes sliming out of the woodwork to make at best a quick buck (and at worst straight up stealing the MS), which is something that nicking someone's idea, and spending a year writing it up, is almost guaranteed not to yield...
 
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