“Someone stole my idea!” What to do next.

By Cassandra Lane

You’ve got an idea that’s so blazingly hot and blissfully full to the brim with spicy, sassy and game-changing energy that you’re practically vibrating with ready-to-go creative prowess.

So, naturally, you throw caution to the wind and begin diving into the type of adventuring you do best: creating cool sh*t.

Days, weeks, possibly even months race by. The end is in sight. But there’s just one problem:

Somebody got there first.

Your mouth drops open. Then, like a clunky, rusty old key reluctantly grating into a lock, it clicks into place. “Somebody stole my idea,” you gape.

When idea burglar’s pounce

First thing’s first: it’s time to take a big, deep breath. Feel a little bit better? No? That’s okay too. But stick with me.

Because if you’ve been in the creating game for a while, you likely already know that this stuff happens all the time. Listen to some experts and you’ll even hear the words, “there are no original ideas left” lingering in the air like a cloud of thick, potent perfume.

But I have some good news: in most cases, your idea hasn’t been stolen.

Even though I know it feels like it has, I assure you that it probably (likely) wasn’t.

Instead, there’s a totally different non-thiefy phenomena going on. Say hello to multiple discovery.  

What is multiple discovery?

Even though I’d heard of instances of multiple discovery many times before, my first real introduction to the theory behind it was in Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Big Magic (which, by the way, is just as brilliant as everyone says it is). 

Liz describes multiple discovery as being the strangeness that occurs when multiple people come up with the same idea at the same time. Possibly without ever having met, or spoken to, each other before.

“There’s no logical explanation for why this occurs.” Liz says in Big Magic. But she urges us not to “fret about the irrationality and unpredictability of all this strangeness.” Instead, we should “Give in to it. Such is the bizarre, unearthly contract of creative living. There is no theft; there is no ownership; there is no tragedy; there is no problem. There is only the stubbornness of the idea itself, refusing to stop searching until it has found an equally stubborn collaborator. (Or multiple collaborators, as the case may be.)”

So… what should you do next?

“That’s all well and grand,” I hear you saying. “But fact’s are facts: my idea is no longer as unique and brilliant as I thought it was. So, now what do I do?”

I hear you. But you’ve got it all wrong. And just because somebody got the drop on your cool idea, that’s not a good enough reason to play possum and give up.

As Liz says, “Well, yes, it {your idea} probably has already been done. Most things have already been done – but they have not yet been done by you.

So someone has a similar idea. Who cares? There isn’t only one social media site. One news site. One clothes boutique. Instead, the beauty is in the variety. And the variety comes from showing up as your authentic, brilliant self and infusing every single piece of you-niqueness into your project and creation.

Because that’s where the (big) magic happens. And that’s also something that no idea thief or multiple discovery phenomenon can steal from you.

Because you (yes, you!) are unstealable.

P.S. Have you had an idea ‘stolen’ before? I’d love to hear your experience and what you did. Was it multiple discovery at play?

Cassandra Lane is the happy Editor-in-Chief of online publication, Happiness + Wellbeing Magazine, designated Word Wizardress at her copywriting agency Wild Spirit Co. and the Blogger Extraordinaire at the Fauna Philosopher. A quintessential daydreamer with a penchant for cloud-watching, reading, chocolate-drinking and crisp, mountain air (or really, nature of any kind, but mountain air sounded a lot cooler), she can usually be found with a book in one hand and a journal in the other. The pen, of course, will be tucked behind her ear and quickly forgotten as she floats though the rest of her day.