Did you ever ponder how one can be truly creative in today’s world? I mean, hasn’t everything already been thought of. Hasn’t every melody already been written? Hasn’t every plot line been explored?
I used to think like this and such non-productive thoughts have significantly shortened my writing years.
I remember when I used to get a random idea – whether a line in a poem, a catchy melody, or an idea for a story – and I would say to myself “If I can think of it, anyone can.” At that point I put the thought out of my mind and did nothing with it, knowing for a fact that my idea had already been done before.
How foolish I was! If you find yourself ever doubting your creative limits, consider the following:
1) we are all different. No two people are even remotely alike. How could we expect any two people to come up with the exact same idea?
2) thinking like that is admitting failure. Sometimes perhaps we want to readily accept failure instead of stepping out with our creativity and opening ourselves up to criticism. It’s easier to play it safe. But we weren’t created to play things safe. We are meant to express ourselves from the very core of our being.
3) we are living off the creative ideas that have come before us. Any creative artist stands on the backs of giants, whether he or she realizes it or not. We have all been influenced by the classics, the moving whims of culture, and the relentless drive of media. But the way we process and think and move and change and grow is completely different from other people.
4) a better thing to think would be “I wish I had thought of that” or “I could have never thought of that.” Did you ever read some thought-provoking lyrics or some wonderfully deep descriptive language where you wished it had been your idea. This is exactly what I’m talking about. Faulkner writes the best Faulkner out there. Hands down. But Faulkner, whether good or bad, could never have written like Sasse. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I write better than Faulkner. I’m saying that my writing is unique, molded by experiences and life circumstances that no one else has had.
Therefore, your best writing will be when you are emulating yourself. That’s it.
I don’t let myself fall into this false thinking trap anymore. If I can think of it, then it means that I thought of it and I should write about it. And by the stares and strange looks I get from people sometimes, I realize that they are asking me, “how did you ever think of that”?
I don’t know. I just did, and I wrote about it.
You should do the same.