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Rat Files–Who Took the Cheese?

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Reading Time: 5min 21sec

by M LeMont

Good writers are like Templeton the Rat, in the E.B. White's famous book, Charlotte's Web. They KNOW how to take the cheese and run.

In his book Steal Like an Artist, Austin Kelon said, "At some point, an artist gets asked the question, Where do you get your ideas?"

The honest artist answers, "I steal them."

Some people collect art, gold and coins, but as a creative writer, I collect things which are worth stealing–ideas, words, phrases, quotes, drawings, headlines, email subject lines, layouts or formats..

I collect them so I can reuse, reshape and remake them into something even more wondrous than the original....if there is such a thing.

In the publishing world, the best writers keep "Swipe Files," a collection of other people's works and ideas, which they use to be creative.

I prefer to call them "Rat Files," stealing the cheese and making THAT originality MORE FLAVORFUL.

Quentin Tarantino said, "I steal from every single movie ever made. I love it. If my work has anything, it's that I'm taking this from this and that from that and mixing them together. If people don't like it, then tough titty, don't go and see it, alright? I steal from everything. Great artists steal; they don't do homages."

Think Differently, The Best Artists Know How to Bring Life into Something that Already Existed!

"But I invented Twitter...." said Jack,"
"No, you didn’t invent Twitter," Ev replied.
"I didn’t invent Twitter either. Neither did Biz. People don’t invent things on the Internet. They simply expand on an idea that already exists." ~Hatching Twitter

History tells us that the best writers know how to find good ideas that already existed and make them masterpieces.

Shakespeare stole from the plays of the writers of his time: And so did Oscar Wilde, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin and many others.

The treasure lies in the ideas and works of others; it lights the spark for other artists to bring a full and brilliant flame of inspiration!

Many copywriters steal headlines from popular magazines like National Enquirer and Cosmopolitan Magazine and make them their own.

Listen!

Every idea emanates from another idea that came before it.
There is nothing new under the sun that has not been said or done before.

Every thought stems from a thought proceeding it; every word or sentence came from another word or sentence before it; and every idea, from another idea that previously sprung forth.

Every cell builds on another cell, and that cell doesn't care about originality.

Without life before, there would be nothing afterward.

We are here because our parents came first, and their parents before them.

"What is Originality? Undetected plagiarism." ~William Ralph Inge

"Art is theft." ~Pablo Picasso

Woody Allen in all his unique, eccentric brilliance called himself, a shameless thief.

"Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take; good poets make it into something better, or at least something different. The good poet wields his theft into a whole feeling which is uniquely different from that from which it was torn." ~T.S. Eliot

You don't have to be the smartest person in the world to invent things. Look around you and make something aflame with your own creativity.

"The only art I'll ever study is stuff that I can steal from." ~David Bowie

When people call something "original" nine out of ten times they do not know the references or the original sources involved. ~Jonathan Lethem

Mark Twain said, "It's better taking what does not belong to you, then to let it lie around neglected."

So NOW, you get my point–it has all been used before.

"You can discover yourself, by copying the work of others and then finding yourself." ~Yohji Yamamoto
Jim Jarmusch said, "Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (theft) will be authentic."

Francis Ford Coppola said, "We want you to take from us. We want you, at first, to steal from us because you can not steal. You will take what we give you and will put it in your own voice, and that's how you will find your voice, and that's how you begin. Then one day someone will steal from you."

Thomas Edison said, "The greatest inventor, is "Accident"

Okay, now you've heard it from the greatest poets, writers, and inventors the world has ever known.
What's the Bottom Line?

Think differently than the crowd and be like Templeton the Rat! Have at that Cheese, but give it some FLAVA!

Comments: Swipe a few good things every day and throw them in your Rat Files to use later: headlines, sentences, quotes, snippets from songs and movies, then rearrange and repackage them into something that looks, sounds and feels different.

Excerpt is taken from my new book:
Write Like You're Already Famous

getBook.at/WriteFamous