Natallie Whipple had an excellent post today about writing, and story ideas, and how sometimes you can be halfway through a project only to discover that *gasp* somebody else had the same exact plot. Check out her post, Other People Will Have Your Ideas—That Is Okay . My favorite bit of the post is this:
The truth is—other people are going to have your ideas.
Also, that is OKAY.
When people ask me what I’m writing, I rarely give them a detailed answer. Part of that is for this very reason. They will hear the idea and either immediately come up with a reason it isn’t plausible (this is an evil thing to do) or they’ll say, oh that reminds me of <insert book title here>. Then I’ll be all messed up in my head and abandon a perfectly good story. But I shouldn’t do that.
This leads to something else. The problem of elevating The Big Idea to god-like status. The overall idea is important, but more important is how that idea is implemented (written). There were others on the planet Earth who came up with an idea about a boarding school for young wizards. But there was only one Harry Potter.
The general rule of thumb, really, is to write YOUR story. It it on paper, or in 1s and 0s. Worry about the rest of that crap later.