Being Original in a Creatively Crowded World

WITH SO MUCH creative content seeping out into the world, it  sometimes feels like true originality is an increasingly unobtainable objective. After all, there are only so many plot structures, so many colors, and so many notes.

“No one can see the world through your own eyes, tell your story, or paint your picture. Only you can do that.”

But instead of despairing before the great collective oeuvre of all the world’s artists, we should feel free to reference its genius—and without feeling like doing so somehow infringes upon our own creativity.

As individuals with varying preconceptions, experiences, interpretive biases, skills, thoughts, and desires, we will never be carbon copies of the artists who inspire us. I have long admired the sweet combination of chord and melody featured in the guitar playing of Jimi Hendrix. I will never play like him; no one can. I delight in the direct, succinct prose of Ernest Hemingway. I try to channel his style now and again. But I will never write like him; no one can.

In much the same way, remember that no matter what inspires you, the work you produce will be a product of your own individuality. No one can see the world through your own eyes, tell your story, or paint your picture. Only you can do that.

As for me, I will continue to listen to the music I love and reference its harmony; I will continue to read the authors I enjoy and be inspired by their syntax. But in so doing, I will recognize that no one can play my music or write my words—they’re far too busy being uniquely, originally, beautifully them.

So here’s to the works continually inspiring your particular endeavors and the inimitable nature of your own creativity.


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