Writers (and other artists, I can only assume) are constantly looking at the world as a source for inspiration. Sure, there is the occasional idea that just pops into my head with no discernible source, but for the most part every idea that I have is inspired by something. That's just the way the creative process works. You see or hear something interesting, it sparks an idea, your internal conversation leads to other ideas, and suddenly you're inspired to produce something brilliant.
Admittedly, I'm sure that sometimes I over-share, but (as you know if you read this blog) I tend to provide my source material as part of the story. "I saw this guy doing this thing and I started to wonder... blah, blah, blah." Or something like that. I always like to know what led up to something, so I share in case anyone else out there is like that too. (Plus, I sometimes feel a need to prove that not everything that comes out of my head is random nonsense. But that's a conversation for another time.)
The other reason for sharing that information is something that was drilled into my brain while completing my technical writing degree: Thou shall cite every source! Anyone who writes any kind of non-fiction knows (or should know) that you always credit your sources, whether you're quoting directly or just going off of an idea that someone else started. To do otherwise is to plagiarize.
I thought of this today because of Miss Riki's latest post. (See what I did there?) She shared a perfectly justified rant because she was recently plagiarized by another blogger. Direct, word-for-word stolen material. It was horrible, and quite the violation. And as a fellow blogger, I was disgusted.
Part of that disgust was because people in the blogging community do - quite often - get inspiration from each other. It is very common to see links to other posts that inspired the telling of another story. (Almost exactly what I'm doing here, you might say.) It's a way to give credit to the ones who sparked the ideas in us, and to share our favorite bloggers with our own readers and encourage you to visit them. (Ahem. See above.)
While I haven't been directly plagiarized (as far as I know), I can relate at least a little bit to Miss Riki's anger. In the not too distant past I was part of an online discussion thread. The very next day, I happened to see a blog post written by someone else that was also part of that discussion. Interestingly enough, the idea for that person's post had obviously come from some of my comments the day before.
Sure, it wasn't a big deal. And I didn't do anything about it (other than to make a sort of disgusted clucking noise, and think "that was kind of rude!") But yeah, it was irritating. Particularly because it would have been SO easy to say "I was having a discussion yesterday, and someone said blah, blah, blah, which reminded me that blah, blah, blah..." See? Easy. And frankly, just the polite thing to do.
Nobody likes to have things stolen from them, and that includes ideas. If someone inspires you, that's wonderful! I'm sure they would like to hear about it. Share that inspiration - just don't claim it as your own.