If there is an art form where recycling ideas have been taken to the higher level than it is pop music. Actually, you are bound to by the set, and usually very strict norms of the genre - you have to be very catchy and easy on the ear and usually you have to stick to a certain time limit that fits perfectly into any diffusion media - radio or YouTube, doesn’t matter. Of course, there is yet another line you can’t cross - you may connect to somebody’s idea, even quote it, but you can’t copy it. Now there’s something that sounds familiar to writers…
ABBA was one of the biggest masters of recycling musical ideas, theirs or somebody else’s. Not necessarily in that order. Even if you don’t like ABBA and think they are just pure pap, tell me when was the last time you switched off your radio, or mobile or whatever when they were on? Unless of course, it was Money, Money, Money. If that was too easy in every respect, take then, for example, Steely Dan. They had the mastery of jazz and applied it to the pop song format, quite often recycling great jazz ideas, as well as their own, and for that, you can pick anything they recorded. Absolute excellence.
Applied to writing, techniques might differ, but the principle is the same - some ideas are simply worth repeating. Definitely not in same words though. Particularly not somebody else’s. So it is even essential to go back to practically everything you wrote down and see what worked and what didn’t. If something worked, it needs repeating - in different words, different setting - the boundaries always need to be at least reached, if not moved. If something didn’t work and the main idea still seems good and valid, then it definitely needs repeating, usually overturned on its head and in new clothing. Of course, there is always that possibility that the idea was never good in the first place, but then, there’s always at least an inkling that could be salvaged and you can always apply the process experienced knitters do - slowly retrace your steps to the point where you are certain you made the first mistake in your reasoning or writing process. That’s probably the only way to salvage an idea.
So forget the standard connotation the idea of recycling is connected to - garbage. By the way, even there there’s always something to be salvaged. In writing, that might be a good way to reach the heights of that ABBA song - only as far as the title is concerned, hopefully.
To learn more about me, please check my LinkedIn page at www.linkedin.com/profile/preview?locale=en_US&trk=prof-0-sb-preview-primary-button.