What makes a great writer? An avid reader!

What makes a great writer? An avid reader!

Since my days as a law student, writing endures deep within my psyche. My days mostly concern words, prose, literature and penning good copy. Whether it is for my lovely clients or my own company, adding chapters to my developing blog.

One important factor I learnt as a student is to read, and read an incredible amount (after all, it has always been about “reading law” rather than “studying law”).

All my academic and professional life, when it comes to writing essays, dissertations or copy, I am encouraged to take on an existing school of thought. To do so with the anticipation of building upon existing masterpieces, creating my own unique but significant analysis, in much the same way as law students are required to rethink the wise old Lords, taking their rulings, and adapting their reasoning in consideration of current statutes and evolved precedents.

Therefore, it was with some interest that I came across this quote from Picasso, (a quote arguably stolen from TS Elliot?)

“Good artists copy, great artists steal”?

Stealing from other artists and passing it off as our own, without referencing a source, is blatant plagiarism and fraud and never acceptable. However, reading avidly, learning from the best, taking existing ideas, turning them on their heads and adding our unique slant and thoughts, looking at a topic in a completely different context with a fresh pair of eyes, describing an area of focus in our own words, this is creativity. What starts as original and unique, an altogether brilliant hypothesis or theory eventually evolves to become a mishmash of ideas and creative conceptualising.

Originality is one of many building blocks placed on the previous building blocks of originality below it, fostering innovation, adaptation and, often, improving. In big business and tech organisations, paving the way to creativity and producing products to die for is a prickly road.

Apple and Samsung’s long history of litigation is a prime example of brilliance fostering rivalry! Steve Jobs bleats of iPhone “copycat”, and “thief,” aimed at the CEO of Samsung, led to an extremely bitter and protracted legal battle. The claim instigated by Apple relied upon this statement:

“Instead of pursuing independent product development, Samsung has chosen to slavishly copy Apple’s innovative technology, distinctive user interfaces, and elegant and distinctive product and packaging design, in violation of Apple’s valuable intellectual property rights.”

After many years of courtroom battles, drama, appeals and counterclaims, neither side came out favourably, although Apple claimed to have won the war when they released their victory speech:

“We believe deeply in the value of design, and our teams work tirelessly to create innovative products that delight our customers. This case has always been about more than money. Apple ignited the smartphone revolution with the iPhone, and it is a fact that Samsung blatantly copied our design. It is important that we continue to protect the hard work and innovation of so many people at Apple. We’re grateful to the jury for their service and pleased they agree that Samsung should pay for copying our products.”

Oh the irony, as embedded within this quote is the reference to where “Apple ignited the smartphone revolution”. Ironic because without Samsung’s internal components such as their OLED display and Flash memory, the iPhone would not exist.

Steve Jobs was prepared to go to any length to protect Apple’s IP, to the Company’s financial detriment if required, his passion really shone when he said:

“I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong. I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this.”

A typical paroxysm from Mr Jobs, who sadly died before we could witness his swift  annihilation of Android or any other company that coveted to imitate Apple design and innovative concepts.

Thankfully, the two companies have moved on from all the drama and regularly collaborate on new products, for example, Samsung Smart TVs and new Apple platforms such as AirPlay, the Apple TV app. Apple and Samsung now stroll hand in hand relying on each other to create masterpieces.  This attractive cooperation is a sure fire way to recoup some of the monies doled out on seven years of expensive lawyers and court fees and ensures the two stay at the top of the leader board in this crowded but disruptive market.

Putting it in another way, an actual author, designer, artist, inventor, strives to research any given assignment, commission, plot, or whatever article or bestowment that requires his or her attention.  The goal is to make it unique, more so than any other similarly written about or designed topic that exists. We are not creatives out to make a quick buck. A buck takes time, patience, imagination. The finished article inspires others to read, have an opinion and build upon, strengthening, expanding and analysing in great depth the subject matter.

After all, in the words of French filmmaker and screenwriter, Jean-Luc Godard:

“It’s not where you take things from — it’s where you take them to.”

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