Relax, no one is going to steal your ideas


A mistake new authors make is to hide what they are doing in fear that someone might steal their ideas. No one is going to steal your ideas – here is why.

To illustrate the point, we told Tumblr what we were going to write before we had even written it.

Most writers have more than they can use, no one wants to steal yours

The reason there is not a market selling interesting ideas to writers is that writers either have more ideas than they could ever use already or they are so uninteresting that it doesn’t matter.

Right now, on my blog, I have three active story collections. Three! That is just the ones I am prepared to share because I think they are ready to be enjoyed by others.

In addition, I have an entire folder dedicated to plots I would like to write but have not had time for.

I also write for local news blogs, this blog, my geek blog, Tumblr… Your ideas might be the most ground breaking ever and I just will not have time to do much more than enjoy hearing them. Even that might be a push on a busy day.

The chances are though, that unless you are some kind of story telling genius your ideas are not that novel. It is said that there are only seven basic stories anyway and they have all been told before.

No one will steal your idea because writing is the hard part and ideas are too easy

Monkey at a typewriterIdeas are not the thing. Writing is the thing.

If you tell me about your story idea and I have time, I might listen for a few minutes but unless you are prepared to put the idea down on paper in the form of a story, you will lose my interest quickly.

People buy finished stories, not unfinished ideas.

Ideas are like blueprints. Two builders could start with the same blueprint but they will not build the same house twice. The quality of the build – and the deviations from the blue print – are a reflection of the builder’s skills. They may both choose similar or different materials but the location and the work may result in houses of very different values. Then once, the thing is up, the interior decoration starts. What you have is two very different homes, with two different families, in two different locations…

Same blueprint, different result.

If one of those homes was built by a rank amateur who did not know what they were doing, well, then it will probably fall down after a few years. The blueprint is not the house; the idea is not the book.

How can you get the feedback you need if you fear people will steal your ideas?

At the very least you will need a reliable Beta reader. Your first few rounds of beta reading are best supplied by a local writers group. Then later, you may want a professional beta reading, copy editors, proofreaders, and so forth. Your ideas are going to be seen by a lot of people, as is your work.

The difference between someone else and you is that you believe in your ideas and are willing to put in the work. There is a good chance that no one else ever will.

If you do not tell your story, it will never be told

The truth is that no one will steal your idea, even if you wanted them to do so. Unless you tell your story, it will remain untold.

You are the only one that can tell it.

Which leads us nicely to…

The best ideas grow with collaboration

Very little happens in a vacuum. When it comes to writing, your best ideas will flourish with some insightful criticism and feedback. On the other hand, terrible ideas will become apparent long before you have invested much more effort into them. For that to happen you need to do two things:

  1. Put pen to paper and begin to express your ideas
  2. Share those ideas with others

That is why writer’s groups are so popular – they help. It is why we have a forum.

An idea is like a seed in the garden of your mind. You need to interact with others to let it get watered and grow.

It is deeply unlikely that some hack will try to steal your ideas. It is very likely that friendly writers will encourage you to grow your ideas. In fact, you can only hope a desperate hack will try and steal your concept. IF they do it means that you were on to something and it also means you can see all a lot of ways to fail with your concept.

Sharing ideas keeps you safe from predators

This idea is not actually mine – it can be found on Anne R. Allen’s blog titled “Don’t fall Prey to Publishing Scams: 7 New Writer Mistakes to Avoid”. The fear that someone will steal your idea is mistake number one.

The post (which you should read) goes on to show how, by trying to do it all alone, you set yourself to be misled. A penguin that swims alone will probably be eaten. The same, it seems, is true for writers.

Don’t Fall Prey to Publishing Scams: 7 New Writer Mistakes to Avoid

So relax, no one is going to steal your ideas

Just in case you somehow missed the gist of this article – no one will steal your ideas but if you are willing to share them then maybe some people will help you with them.

You can stop worrying about it now.


About Matthew Brown

Matthew is a writer and Geek from Kent (UK). He is the founder and current chair of Thanet Creative Writers as well as head geek for Author Buzz. His ambitions include appearing on TableTop with Wil Wheaton and seeing a film or TV series based on something he wrote.