How To Be Original

Personal Growth

Written by Tracey Burns

January 7, 2023
As I stew about the current state of our world I allow myself timeouts for deep thought. On this particular day I’m thinking,  “Are there any original ideas, ever?”  “Have there ever been any?”  Then, with increasing alarm… “Did my programs and articles even come from my original thoughts and concepts?” “Wait, what does it even mean to be original?” Horror arrives… “Are my ideas based on things I’ve read before or even experienced?!”
The prerequisite of originality is the art of forgetting, at the proper moment, what we know. ~ Arthur Koestler

Now I’m shouting FBombs and colouring the air in my office blue… “HAVE I COPIED PEOPLE?!”  I. HAVE. AN. ALARMING. OBSESSIVE. STIFLING. NEED. TO. BE. ORIGINAL. Now alarmed and Googling, tabs flying open like beer during Spring Break. ORIGINALITY. INNOVATION. IDEAS. I am silenced as I learn from those who have already ventured into this vortex. See the irony in that? The irony on using The Google isn’t lost on me either, so wipe that wry grin off your face. 

In a 2016 article by Stefano Faustini, There Are No Original Ideas Anymore he writes, “…a close examination at any major ground-breaking idea or phenomenon in modern innovation almost always reveals its roots in an older, pre-existing idea.”  I’m now silenced, my mind wandering further and further into the vortex. In an instant, I had freed myself from the, “I must be original” trap.

I worked so hard at being original, it cost me hours and days of procrastination. Can you relate?  Are you so in your head thinking about all the ways you could be original you fail to launch anything?

Instead, let go. Stop thinking. Forget everything you know and create.

You see, if you’d only stop thinking and allow yourself to be you’d realize that you are original from the inside out. There is no one else like you. Anything you create from your authentic way of being will be original even if it has been inspired over time by things you’ve read, watched or listened to.

Your interpretation or version of things is your unique expression.  Even if people are vaguely familiar with what you’ve produced (and you haven’t blatantly copied someone), your unique creative twist on things may be exactly what resonates for people.

For example, I bet you didn’t know that some of our iconic pop songs

were inspired by classical music. For example, Maroon 5, “Memories” was adapted from Pachelbel – Canon in D.  Another industry that consistently co-opts things is the movie industry.

Filmmakers adapt great books for the screen. In turn, those great books have been inspired by lived experiences sprinkled with just the perfect blend of fact and fiction to keep us entertained.

And so, release yourself and in the words of Elizabeth Gilbert,  “create whatever causes a revolution in your heart.”

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