I didn’t want to be called this in school, but now I don’t mind. After all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” (Charles Caleb Colton (1780-1832) English cleric and writer known for his aphorisms.) Not surprisingly, writer and playwright Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) added “…that mediocrity can pay to greatness.” That’s kind of a downer, because I copy a lot to create things when I can’t think of another way on my own to accomplish them.
While nearly everything must have devolved from someone else’s original idea, essentially very much of what is created is by imitation. Why would you continue to reinvent a good idea or plan? I’m thinking of making a bench for people to sit on, namely my daughter’s children at her dining table to save space. No doubt there are patterns out there — but by looking at others, and knowing my limited capability and what tools I have at my disposal, I think I can create one by copying others’ ideas. A bit of this, a little of that, and voila, a bench! My own piece of work!
I’m continually trying to get better at different aspects of the writing craft, and sometimes I’ve even taken a poem and copied it line by line — not the words, but their assemblage. That helps me with meter and flow of the verses.
My daughter is a photographer, and for one of her photography classes I suggested a project idea that I’d seen in the Women in Military Service Memorial at Arlington Cemetery. Covering a large portion of wall was a photo display which featured two photos. They were laid out as if on an accordion door: a strip of each photo alternating with the strips from the other. Standing on one side of the photo you saw one picture, and standing on the other, a different one. Now, this could have been copyright infringement, but my daughter did a similar thing on a much smaller scale with two photos — very successful — and, I might add, challenging. (I tried it first to see if it would work.)
I’ve certainly copied ideas for food recipes I’ve tasted at restaurants (where they won’t give you the recipe!), and I’ve copied craft ideas, table setting arrangements, decorations, etc. Haven’t you?
So, I’m a copycat at heart, and think it’s a great way to get ideas that you can make your own, legally, hopefully.