Writing Helpers

A Renowned Author and Artist on Reasons for Plagiarism in Books

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We are not going to break a habit to interview renowned authors. This time a self-taught artist and writer is our honored guest. Jane Dunnewold started her career with dyeing and printing fabric till she found out there was a lack of books on some special techniques.

Her latest book on creativity Creative Strength Training: Prompts, Exercises and Personal Stories for Encouraging Artistic Genius and many other works are mentioned on her own blog and are the examples of a true original writing.

Jane Dunnewold shared her secret of writing brilliant books with Unicheck and dwelt on how to prevent plagiarism from taking place. However these are not the only things the writer spoke about. She also kindly agreed to give the effective tips for writing your first book. So, make yourself comfortable and prepare to explore the writer’s bright ideas.

Why did you decide to write your first book?  

I’m a self-taught artist and writer. I was an artist first, but then realized there wasn’t much clean writing about processes used to dye & print fabric. So I began writing step-by-step instructions to help students master techniques. My first book, “Complex Cloth” was based on my instructions for fabric-patterning processes. A former student mailed the class notes to an editor at Fiber Studio Press. She approached me to write for them, which was a lucky break that doesn’t happen very often.

Being self-taught means you find information wherever you can. There isn’t a mentor or a set of classes you take. You wing it. If you’re disciplined and good at winging it, success is achievable. Some success comes from modeling what you see other people doing in your field. You pay attention and notice what works for them, and then you copy it.

Do you believe that plagiarism occurs when a person has a lack of a creativity? Are there any other reasons for plagiarism in books and plagiarism in art?

Students in traditional education programs (defined as programs in which the student is not self-taught) learn from books and instructors. In some sense, they’re doing the same thing a self-taught person does, but they have an organized system to follow, and accountability when it comes to taking tests and following a professor’s directives. Students are expected to put what they’re learning into their own words. Otherwise it’s consider plagiarism. Ideally, students study whatever it is they’re studying, translate that learning into their own words, and are then inspired to propose new perspectives on the topic at hand–in order to move the ideas within their chosen field forward.

When someone plagiarizes writing, it might be because of laziness–there isn’t a desire to take the time to get it right. Plagiarism also happens because a student/writer is insecure. Maybe no fresh thoughts are happening, or there isn’t a basic understanding of the topic in the first place. So the writer can’t begin without help. The information has to be lifted from somewhere else. Plagiarism may also be downright mean-spirited. A bold theft by someone who lacks respect for other peoples’ thoughts and time.

The Art Community experiences plagiarism. Artists who are too lazy to come up with new ideas on their own. Artists who have no respect for the time, energy and resources it took in order for another artist to perfect a personal style or technique. Copying is a time-tested method for learning “how” to make a certain object or learn a special technique, but once the learning is complete, artists are expected to take whatever methods they learned further–into a realm where the technique becomes their own and the work they produce is recognizable as their distinctive style.

What would you tell a person who want to write his first book, but can’t start because of the fear (fear about talent, fear about publication, fear of judgement or any other type of fear)? 

The fear factor is a problem artists and writers have in common. If the reason you plagiarize someone else’s writing, or copy someone else’s artwork is because you’re afraid you can’t write or make anything good on your own, you need to claim your fear and resolve it. If you can discover, (or admit) what it is that you’re afraid of, half the battle is won. Then you can set an intention to show up anyway. Fear is in each of us and the bad news is that it probably won’t go away. It’s important to set the fear aside and then write and “make” despite the reality of its presence.

The good news is when you show up–writing and making “anyway”–even if you suck in the beginning and it takes a while to see improvement–you will see improvement. Discipline isn’t about talent; although talent may help. Discipline is about taking yourself seriously, writing or “making” even when you don’t feel like it, and choosing to write your own thoughts or make your own art as a point of personal pride.

Making these simple commitments to yourself changes everything. It takes courage to figure out what the stumbling blocks are, and courage to overcome them. But it’s worth it.