Great minds think alike… so don’t freak out.

12 10 2008

I’m a big fan of Doctor Who. I can’t say it’s the best written show in the whole wide world, but it’s Doctor Who. What’s not to love?

Several months back I thought of an episode idea I’d love to see. One where a future version of the Doctor comes to see him because something monumentally horrible happened, and the future doctor traced it back to the decision the David Tennant Doctor made, which resulted in his regenerating into this new doctor. So basically, to save the human race or something, this future Doctor, who has his own personality, own quirks, own pretty assistant, etc, has to help the current Doctor change things so he’ll never exist.

The heart tugger of my idea was that the Doctor thinks of all his past selves as brothers of a sort. All have a shared past, some get along, some don’t, but there’s a bond there. And now he basically has to watch one die. Worse than die, to never exist at all (because regeneration is random and there’s no way he could ever turn into that guy if the timeline is disturbed).

Anyway, long story short (too late), they seem to actually be making that episode as we speak. The next Christmas special is called The Next Doctor, where the Doctor runs into, and works with his future self. That’s as much as I know about the plot. I can only assume they can’t let the episode end with people thinking that really is the next Doctor, because Tennant intends to stay on, as far I know, and contract negotiations are tricky things. I’m assuming they’re going to write the guy out.

So yeah, there’s a good chance this is very much like the episode I berthed in my brain. A part of me is excited to see it play out (assuming it does). Another part of me is pissed off that someone stole an idea right out of my brain like that, and should I ever get to write for Doctor Who, that’s one less cool episode I’ve got to work with.

The truth is, this is something every writer has to deal with. You see your best ideas played out elsewhere, sometimes done better, sometimes worse. It’s no cause to get irrationally angry. Great minds really do think alike. Think about it. There are so many bad ideas out there, and they completely outnumber the good ones. So with so few possible good ideas, some are bound to get covered by more than one person. Law of averages.

Plus, if two writers are genuinely creative, then they’ll probably hit upon the same awesome concept at near the same time. Edison was not the only guy making a light bulb at the time. Bell wasn’t the only one trying to invent the phone. Great minds think alike. Take it as a compliment.

The only thing to learn from it, is that when you have a good idea, you need to seize upon it, and really work to make it happen, or else you’ll see it done by someone else, and making them money. When that happens I suppose you could legitimately get mad, but only at yourself for your own procrastination.

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14 10 2008
Writer Matthew Gallagher: Jump On It! « Mike Cane 2008

[…] Writer Matthew Gallagher: Jump On It! Great minds think alike… so don’t freak out. […]

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