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Inspiration vs. Plagiarism: How to Use an Idea Without Stealing

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When you’re creating your own content, the line between inspiration vs. plagiarism can be a fuzzy one. It’s important to know how to take inspiration from creators you admire without actually copying or plagiarizing their work.

Here at the Tutor Resource, we encourage creativity from all the curriculum designers and writers who publish content to our site. However, it’s always important not to plagiarize other creators’ content during the creation process.

In this post, we will talk about how to identify potential plagiarism, how to prevent it, and how to ensure you’re properly appreciating your inspiration without copying it.

Inspiration vs. Plagiarism: What Are They?

Plagiarism is defined as “the practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own.” This can be done with text, images, music, or any other type of content.

With inspiration vs plagiarism, comparison is the thief of joy. Don't coy others. Be authentically you.

Four Main Types of Plagiarism

Direct plagiarism: this is when you copy someone else’s work verbatim without giving credit. For example, if you take an entire paragraph from a blog post and use it in your own article without quoting or citing the original source.

Self-plagiarism: this is when you reuse your own previously published work without giving credit. For example, if you submit the same paper for two different classes without letting your professor know.

Mosaic plagiarism: this is when you borrow ideas or phrases from another source but don’t copy the work verbatim. For example, if you change a few words in a sentence but the overall structure and meaning are still the same.

Paraphrasing plagiarism: this is when you paraphrase someone else’s work but don’t give credit. For example, if you take a sentence from a blog post and rewrite it in your own words without quoting or citing the original source. The sentence is still similar to the original and demonstrates the same basic intent.

With inspiration vs. plagiarism it's possibly to accidentally copy someone else's work if you don't focus on avoiding it.


Inspiration is defined as “the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.” When you’re inspired by other people’s work, you’re not copying it. Instead, you’re using it as a jumping-off point for your own creative ideas.

This means that you’re using the basic idea but the content, the words, the images…everything that goes into what you make is unique from your brain.

Inspiration vs plagiarism should be at the forefront of every content creators mind.

Example of Inspiration

For example, let’s say you come across a beautiful painting that inspires you to create your own piece of art. You wouldn’t be plagiarizing the original painting, you would be using it as inspiration for your own work.

In balancing inspiration vs. plagiarism, make sure you create your own content in your own way. Use your own style and words. Use your own creative spin and flare for all your work. That makes it more interesting.

Pro Tip: Even if clients or parents are asking you to recreate lessons from existing companies, don’t do it. That’s plagiarism.

The same goes for curriculum developers. If you see a lesson that inspires you to write your own lesson, that is creative inspiration. If you read the full lesson and then copy it topic for topic, that’s plagiarism.

If you focus on inspiration (vs. plagiarism) you will find it results in more inspiration.

Inspiration vs. Plagiarism: Avoid Copying

Why Avoid Plagiarism

Aside from being morally wrong, plagiarism is also illegal. There are copyright and fair use laws designed to prevent plagiarism.

If you’re caught plagiarizing someone else’s work, you could be facing serious legal consequences. These include a fine or even jail time.

Related Reading: The Tutor Resource Copyright & Trademark Policies

Avoiding plagiarism is also important because it goes against the very nature of creative work. When you’re creating something, you want it to be uniquely yours – not a copy of someone else’s idea.

If you stray too far into the dark grey area of inspiration vs plagiarism you can get into legal trouble.

How to Avoid Plagiarism

Now that we’ve talked about what inspiration vs. plagiarism is, let’s talk about how to avoid plagiarism in your own work.

The best way to avoid plagiarism is to be proactive about it and give credit where it’s due. When you’re starting a new project, take the time to brainstorm ideas and come up with your own original concepts.

Whenever you use someone else’s work as inspiration for your own, make sure to cite or quote them properly. Yes, even if you just draw significant inspiration from another creator you should still acknowledge them for the inspiration.

Citing your sources not only protects you from accusations of plagiarism, but it also shows that you’re knowledgeable about the topic and familiar with the existing bodies of work on the same subject.

For example, if you’re writing a blog post and you use a phrase from another article, put that phrase in quotation marks and include the original source in your citation.

Pro Tip: You should also avoid self-plagiarism by being mindful of what you’ve published in the past.

It’s not worth the risk to plagiarize someone else’s work. If you want to use someone else’s content as inspiration for your own, make sure you’re doing it legally and ethically by giving credit where it’s due.

Inspiration vs. Plagiarism: Be Inspired Without Copying

If you want to avoid plagiarism but still want to be inspired by other creators, here are some tips:

✔️ Draw inspiration from the overall idea. If you’re inspired by someone’s work but don’t want to plagiarize, focus on the general idea or concept instead of copying specific details.

✔️ Create something new: Don’t copy someone else’s work verbatim. Change it up and make it your own.

✔️ Give credit where it’s due. If you use someone else’s work as inspiration for your own, make sure to cite them properly. If you’re ever unsure whether or not something counts as plagiarism, err on the side of caution and cite your sources.

✔️ Avoid self-plagiarism. Don’t forget to be mindful of what you’ve published in the past. Don’t reuse your own work without giving yourself proper credit.

Inspiration vs. Plagiarism: Benefits of Innovation

Innovation is important for a number of reasons. First, it allows content creators to make new products and services that can be sold for profit.

Second, innovation helps content creators stay ahead of the competition. If you’re not constantly coming up with new ideas, your competitors will eventually surpass you.

Third, innovation is the key to keeping customers happy. Customers get bored quickly and are always looking for something new to buy.

Pro Tip: In the case of online teaching curriculums, teachers always need new content to keep their students engaged.

If you want them to keep coming back, you need to give them what they want: new and exciting products and services.

Fourth, innovation helps creators save money in the long run. Yes, it takes time to develop new products and services, but once they’re created, they can be sold over and over again.

Finally, innovation is simply fun. It’s exciting to come up with new ideas and see them come to life. If you’re not having fun with your work, you’re not going to be very successful.

8 Ideas for Curriculum Content Creators

If you’re a content creator, don’t be afraid to truly innovate after inspiration. Here are some ideas for how you can be more innovative in your work.

  1. Get outside your comfort zone.
  2. Try new things.
  3. Think outside the box.
  4. If you’re used to writing standard lessons, try writing free talk or grammar lessons.
  5. Start a new track to help yourself stand out from the competition.
  6. If you are inspired by one type of lesson, use the idea to create a totally different kind. For example, if you really enjoyed a grammar lesson, convert the idea into a free talk conversation.
  7. Look at different ways to “gamify” your lessons and curriculum.
  8. Consider using Genialy or EdPuzzle to make interactive lessons.

All of these ideas will help prevent you from copying or plagiarizing, even inadvertently, in favor of inspiration and innovation.

Conclusion: Inspiration vs. Plagiarism

By following the tips in this blog post, you can avoid plagiarism and still be inspired by other creators. Inspiration vs. Plagiarism can be fuzzy since inspiration is a key part of the creative process.

However, it is important to make sure you’re being inspired ethically and legally. Just remember to give credit where it’s due!

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