How to Tackle the Death of Originality

As a creator, the internet is king. It is the end all, be all to sharing your work. It is a tool with such power, such potential to reach hundreds and thousands of people with the push of a button. Yet, in a world where technology pulls the strings and plays puppet master to our creative musings — how are we keeping our ideas alive and original? Is anything we see today truly a unique concept, thought or piece of art? Or have we all played into the hands of an oversaturated market, driven by our desire to ignite and spark a creative revolution? Let’s talk about keeping originality alive.

Figure Out What Inspires You

When I talk of inspiration, I do not mean pulling out your laptop and scrolling through curated lists of images, mood boards or articles that are already found on social media platforms. When we say we use these sites for “inspiration” we are in fact using them for “ideas” to recreate because we like what we see. Although this can be a useful tool to work from, inspiration needs to be an organic process that comes from experience, visual stimulation and mental rest.

To find inspiration these days can be difficult when everything revolves around a screen. Yet, on the other hand, such an accessibility to varying types of media can prove to be beneficial to the creator. Inspiration can come from watching films, listening to music, reading books and having experiences (so, go out there and live ya life!). But really, using creative and artistic pursuits as inspiration are much more unique than looking at someone else’s video, photograph or piece of art and saying “I want my work to look like that.” Instead of attempting to replicate, we need to digest the core meaning, emotion and purpose of what affects us.

Watch a film and take note of the fashion, the emotional reactions, the mannerisms of the characters or the color of the visuals. Listen to a song and dissect the lyrics, find the ebbs and flows of the melody and write down how it makes you feel. Read a book and pick out the words that challenge you and create something that represents this vocabulary — pull apart, rearrange and stick back together the elements that cause you to feel a stroke of genius.

Do Not Aim for Perfection

I’ve always admired individuals who could speak multiple languages, were well versed at various musical instruments or who could pretty much excel at any creative pursuit they attempted. It wasn’t until recently that I began to understand that I could be just as well equipped and artistically inclined as these individuals, if only I put aside one aspect: perfection.

When thinking and conjecturing potential ideas, the concept of doing it right or perfect seems to create boundaries that limit us from acting. When we want to build something specific and we cannot seem to create that the first time around, we become discouraged and place the idea on the back burner. Instead of putting our thoughts on hold, for those better results, look at each project as a beginning, not an end. Just because your work is not at the same level as someone else or you aren’t quite getting the calls for that ideal job — it does not mean you are failing in your craft.

Our thoughtfulness and creativity breaks when we strive too much toward perfection or toward an idea of what we think will be well received by our intended audience. Although it is important to have purpose, we should not let aesthetics, cohesiveness or brand alignment be the driving force of what we share. In order to be original and to hold onto the ideas that you want to display as a creator — you must be willing to ditch the idea of being the best, the most liked or shared when starting off. Find what makes you tick, where your creativity thrives and develop your style with trial and error. Eventually, you will see your work change and grow into something that is specific and natural to you — something that people will begin to notice you for.

Test Out Different Mediums of Creating

This idea holds true not only for the creative community, but for anyone who is willing to test how far their mind can reach. As humans, we use a minuscule portion of our brain (about 10% of its actual capacity) — yet, with such a small percentage we are capable of achieving and excelling at a variety of endeavors. Stretching your brain and comfortability, is a key part of growing if you hope to remain tact and sharp.

To flex those muscles, test out different mediums that are outside of your primary tools. For example, if you are a photographer (like me) test your capacities by writing, using the camera to make videos (which is actually a completely different way of visualizing) or take up an instrument.

This method has been used often by those in creative ruts. When the expression and flow of ideas have come to a halt, it is advised to change the routine and find something new to discover. Although you may not excel at this new medium, the purpose is not for it to replace your current craft, but to reinforce your ability to think, act and analyze tools outside of your comfort zone.

Spend Less Time Explaining and More Time Creating

I can say with confidence that any creator, entrepreneur, business man/woman or critical thinker goes through a period of trying to explain their ideas. Whether you are attempting to provide insight, offer an alternate view or just express your passion on your terms — an over explanation can lead to frustrations, self doubt or lack of motivation.

The hard truth is that not everyone will understand your idea. In fact, many will be confused, perplexed or even put off by a concept at its first conception. A product of varying mindsets and understanding, ideas are rarely ever well received at their beginnings. It is important to not let one person’s belief affect your process.

Instead of talking about your project, idea or art piece — just keep creating. Once you have worked through the grittiness and underlying development of your work, it will start to speak for itself. An original idea should be brand new — something that may cause confusion or misunderstanding. That is the point! Spark a conversation, start a movement, build, create and mold something that people will have stop and comprehend.

How do you think people reacted to the idea of placing a piece of glass, wires and mechanics to your ear to speak to someone in another city, state or country? Would you believe that the idea of sitting in hunks of metal and pressing a pedal would result in traveling at speeds incapable by the limbs of a common man? No great idea, invention or concept makes sense at first — but, that never means we should stop creating them.