Don't try to be original


I think one of the great obstacles we can create for ourselves in the pursuit of creating art is the pressure to be original.

We might feel as though if what we are making is not truly unique, then it is not worth creating. But, on reflection, this is completely absurd.

I am fairly sure that almost everything I write has been said many times over, and many times more articulately by many other people all over the world.

But there are 3 primary reasons why I do it anyway:

1. I enjoy it. The simple act of putting my thoughts to paper is a pleasurable experience. I think we are all meant to make stuff. Being creative works the mind in a way that can be very hearling. At least half the benefit of being creative is to be found within the process.

2. Even if my ideas have not even a whiff of originality to them, it is not as if everyone has read every idea ever written. Although my ideas may not be original to the world, they may be original to my own readers. If it has a positive effect on just one person who wouldn't have thought of it otherwise, it has been worth doing.

3. Even if the idea is not original to the person reading, it can simply act as a helpful reminder.

Recently, after a friend had told me he had been feeling a little down, I asked him whether he had been exercising much, and started making the point of how beneficial working-out can be for our mental well-being. I then stopped and apologised for being patronising:

"Sorry dude, you know all this already, I don't know why I'm going on about it."

But he said no, he was pleased that I was saying what I was saying. He needed the reminder.

He made the point that however much information we absorb, however many lessons we learn, we can only hold so much in our brains at one time.

That is why Christians have saints - to remind them of certain virtues to aspire to. That is why the french painter Chardin painted about 20 loaves of bread, to remind us of the beauty that can be found in every day objects.

Finally, apart from anything else, everything we make is original anyway, because it comes from ourselves, and no one else in the world has had the same combination of experiences as we have.

So we don't need to try to be original anyway.

Just make stuff.


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