Composers and musicians have never ever ever created new music in a vacuum. The idea that a musical genius could ever lock himself (I still struggle to find a good gender-neutral pronoun) in a dark room and produce music is flawed from the start -- this refutation is not a new idea, and is bandied about with ease and enthusiasm. However, the depth of its truth isn't generally understood. The idea being, most people might interpret this to mean that a composer tends to use SOME things inspired by others, and the rest is derived somehow from the magical mind of a genius.
Hogwash. Complete hogwash.
I'm becoming more and more certain that any composers bold enough to succeed and influence are those who are unafraid to write exactly in the style of another person, and call it their own, or who deliberately and directly use motifs from extant sources. Over time (and many repetitions of "experiment" an opus magnum or two or three might come out of the toil. We ought to try to reclaim some of the "composer as technician" mentality. Think of them as a memetic engineer.
An opus no.1 used to be somebody's first published work. Now, it's any number of educational dissertations. I don't mean to demean anybody -- I'm just trying to make a commentary on the processes in place. If we're able to destigmatize the pressure of making a first composition excellent (by removing the requisite "Opus 1" tag), we could encourage more people to take the dive in the first place.