Do Writers Have Unconscious Telepathy?

Today, as I was scanning all of the “Amazon Recommended” emails and adding the ones that looked interesting to my Wish List, I came across a novel that reminded me of a problem that’s plagued me for a while. Please tell me if you’ve encountered the same problem.

The description of this book describes a society of dragons, living in human form, who are working against an underground cult of dragon slayers. I kid you not, the first novel I ever wrote was about a dragon changeling in human form who rediscovers her dragon family and is fighting to return to them, all while being hounded by a dragon slayer society who has survived till modern times.

Okay, so the similarities end fairly early on. The dragons in the other story have survived till modern times by being in human form. My dragons escaped to another world are returning. The dragons in the other story are trying to take over the world. My dragons are trying to stop a particular set of human actions which is killing their world. The hero in the other story knows she’s a dragon and is working to be in a kind of dragon military. My hero has just discovered she’s a dragon and is just trying to find her feet (or wings, ha). The hero in the other story has a love interest who pops up in the dragon slayer sect. My hero’s love interest is actually a dragon, but her shocking conflict about someone in the dragon slayer sect is –

Wait. Nope. Spoilers.

Anyway, the point is, this isn’t the first time I’ve run across a story that is remarkably similar to mine. And it’s not like I’m stealing the idea, because I always find out about the story after I’ve written it (or it’s been festering in my head). The first time it ever happened was a story revolving around an island that almost had a consciousness, and the people living on that island were isolated from the rest of the world with special powers.

It was about a year later that I realized I was writing LOST meets Bionicles. The Bionicle stuff made sense, I grew up on those toys and had every one I could get my hands on, but LOST? I hadn’t even seen the TV show when I came up with the idea and started plugging away. After watching a bunch of episodes and being struck by threads of similarities here and there, I remember being filled with despair and frustration that the idea was taken and I’d just be thought of as a copycat.

This happened again a few years later with a different story. I was just as frustrated, and after throwing out the idea that I was actually plugged into a virtual reality where the world was feeding off of my creativity (cough), I started wondering about the idea of a social consciousness. If you’ve read my posts before (here!), you know that I’m rather a believer in the Jungian idea that society works out it’s issues through literature. My half-baked hypothesis is that the majority of literature is working out whatever social issue is of the day, while others lag behind and a select few are writing ahead of their time.

But what about a social creative consciousness? We all build on each other, whether it be by reading the classics or the latest NY Times Best Seller, and it all becomes tangled inside our brains until it evolves into something different. Different fads, trends, things that are hot to write about, start popping up. People hop on these ideas (see vampires, werewolves, main characters moving to new cities and discovering they have hidden powers, high-school romance all centered on the mysterious guy, etc). But what if not all of these are not necessarily following the trend? What if, as we read and write, our minds all come to similar conclusions of creativity, independently of each other? There are millions of us absorbing similar influences and creativity, and there’s bound to be parallels, right? Sure, we’re all going to be different in this or that way, whether it be writing skill, genetics, or learning environment. But I don’t think we’re all so different that we won’t reach similar conclusions when fed similar inputs.

This is where my thoughts have led me so far, anyway (I’m pretty sure the idea of me being hooked to a virtual reality is far-fetched).

What do you think? Is there a creative social consciousness that we all seem to be following as we work out our issues? Have you come across books/movies/TV shows that are strikingly similar to things you’ve done and have no idea how that happened?

And as a slight offside, what trends do you see in literature that are bugging the crap out of you?

About R. K. Brainerd

I've been writing since my pre-teens, mostly in the realm of fantasy and sci-fi. Taking interesting concepts and dropping complex characters into fantastical worlds is my jam. I also raise dairy goats and herd cats, the evidence of which can be found on my Instagram. Welcome to the adventure. View all posts by R. K. Brainerd

6 responses to “Do Writers Have Unconscious Telepathy?

  • Moongazer

    Ahhh, I can give you an example of this that may well add weight to your theory. The day before yesterday a friend recommended an author to me, an online search led me to discover two freebies of their work – and as I read the blurb I began mentally spitting feathers, as the basic concept was what I had written some 15 years ago!!! There was also a recent Stephen King book with a character who had the same unusual attributes as one of mine.
    Unfortunately, one evening, in 2002, my completed book of 85,000 words that had taken 3 years had only just been transferred from floppy discs onto a pc newly fitted with a recordable dvd drive. Tired, I went to bed, overnight we were burgled and my story was gone *sob* I have the rough hand written first draft of it, but I have never been able to recreate what I had 😦
    I have wondered if somehow these ideas are kind of drifting around in the collective unconscious, and are picked up somehow by different people. If one doesn’t ‘make it happen’, it goes back into the etheric mix to be picked up by someone else.
    Interesting too, that this blog post appeared so soon after my experience at the weekend.
    Curiouser and curiouser methinks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aspire to Fly

      Ohmygoodness I’m so sorry about your story being stolen! That has to be devastating. Did you ever try to work from that first draft again? It probably wouldn’t be the same, but maybe something different and unique would rise up…?

      Aha! I’m not the only one who’s encountered this. I knew there had to be someone else out there. I LOVE your idea about ideas heading back to the etheric mix – reuse and recycle! Ha. (I have this sudden image of muses battling it out with who gets to give the idea to their human first).

      Liked by 1 person

      • Moongazer

        Yeah, it still kicks in me in the stomach sometimes when I think about it. I did try a couple of times to re-write from the first draft (13 exercise books full of scribble lol) but it just didnt flow. However….after reading the freebies from that author…well, let’s just say the muses must be desperate LOL and the urge is upon me again. It’s currently just turning itself over in my head, but maybe I need to actually start bashing the keys with it again 😀
        It is seriously awsome to meet someone else who thinks the same way, isnt it?! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      • Aspire to Fly

        Start bashing keys! I need to do the same. If nothing else, it might be good to get the creativity going.

        It is! Yay for finding writer friends 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  • Catherine Lynn

    I’ve always heard there are no new stories. If you think about it, there are SO many people writing. There will HAVE to be times when stories are similar, or even almost the same. We’re all humans, and these days, most of us are exposed to a lot of the same things. So I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility that writers will have the same stories. I think it’s that special “voice” we each have that makes the stories unique.

    Liked by 2 people

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