Just Keep Writing: When You Find a Book Identical to Yours

“Just Keep Writing” is a series of pep talks I’m writing for myself in hopes that it will help you as well. I wrote this post in 2021 while I was working on my book, Fight or Flight. New Fearless Writing posts will be shared every other Wednesday, which include this series, book reviews, and writing tips.

Last night, I found out about a book almost identical to my own, and despite having a great writing day, I was ready to throw out my book for good. 

But this only lasted about five minutes. Because, after doing more research, I decided that I just needed to write my book. 

I have written before about putting the journey before the destination. In other words, I have to choose every day to focus on enjoying the process no matter where it leads. In this case, my goal is to write the best version of my book that I can write. Not the best version of someone else’s book, or the best book ever, but the best of the story that I intended to write. Whether or not it gets published, I can still achieve this goal to grow as a writer and write a story I love. Maybe I can even give it to my kids or family one day. 

I also reminded myself that many, many books are similar, and that’s okay. For instance, it would probably take days to track down and count every story inspired by Cinderella. Why do we want so many books about a humble girl with an evil stepmother becoming a princess? Because each one has a different flavor. It’s all cake–but some of it is vanilla and some is chocolate. Maybe that’s not the best metaphor, but what I’m trying to say is that even if my book has a similar plot line to someone else’s, each book will have a distinct flavor. While one audience may want the other flavor, there will be some who prefer mine. 

This comes down to voice, which is really just aesthetic when it comes down to it. What does the book cover look like? What kind of characters are there? Is it funny? Dark? Magical? Grounded? Is it heartwarming or tragic? Is the prose straight-forward or poetic? All of these things make stories different. It’s why we like seeing Cinderella in different time periods or locations. Cinderella in space has a very different aesthetic from Cinderella in a ’50s diner. That’s why millions of people can write stories and every single one will be distinct. 

So stop looking up similar books and falling into the pits of despair. While it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the industry and what’s already out there, doing this while you’re 50,000 words into the book is a dangerous step. 

Just keep writing the book that excited you until it’s something you’re proud of.

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