People really get stumped on the words “creativity” and “original ideas”. When you ask people if they’re creative or not, a majority will say they aren’t. Because one of the things we’ve all believed is:
To be creative, you’ve got to do stuff no one has ever done.
This is really far from the truth. However, a lot of people believe it. This way of thinking could not have been explained better by the cast of the TV animation series- Teen Titans Go! I watched a special edition of the television series with my 8-year-old the other day and this is how it played out. In this episode, the kids have worked together to create a movie and were discussing what they had done. Here’s how the discussion went.
Our creative differences helped us make something truly special, says Robin.
Did we all just watch the same thing? It’s oh so familiar, replied Raven.
Then Star Fire interjects, Like the old sweater that brings us comfort.
No, I mean familiar in a bad way. We struggled and fought and the best thing we could come up with is something completely unoriginal, Raven tries to explain.
Cyborg says, I know. It’s a complete copy of things we’ve seen before. We’ve made a real Hollywood movie!!!
Then Robin ends by saying, “Who wants to make a sequel?”
This exact script plays in the minds of many of us when we’re making something new. “This are not original ideas.” This has been done before.” This is a mash-up of other things. Or as Cyborg in Teen Titans Go! says, “it’s a complete copy of things we’ve seen before”.
The thing is creativity is not what we’ve made it out to be.
Creativity is not a stroke of genius that hits you from outer space with “original ideas”. It doesn’t occur in a vacuum. It builds on our knowledge, our environment, our emotions, our education, and our experiences. It’s a mashup of things we’ve seen before, things we’ve heard and things we’ve thought about – just like a real Hollywood movie.
It is the composition, the arrangement, and the ability to make connections between seemingly unrelated things that make the difference. This is the secret sauce which makes our work novel or may I say – original.
When you change your way of thinking about original ideas to this approach of viewing and doing creative work, it frees you to become your creative best. The other way of thinking stifles you and prevents you from venturing into the world of creativity – where supposedly a “mythical genius” occasionally strikes a limited few. (And who can blame you for not wanting to explore such a place?)
So don’t get hung up on creating things which haven’t been seen before. Go ahead and make your work original by making the connections we haven’t thought possible. Connect things which are dissimilar in ways which should have been obvious to the rest of us. But we simply didn’t make the connection. And we’ll be in awe of your originality.
Question: What do you struggle with when you’re coming up with original ideas? Comment below.