The One About Originality

You write, you scribble out. You type, you delete. You push your notebook away, or shut your device down. Walk away, only to come back minutes later. Too often this is the lifecycle of those of us in search of originality.

Why? Well, because we’re struggling for an idea that’s innovative, something that stands out, of course. Because we think that our audience, or our boss, want something original to experience, or fix the issue at hand. But I think there’s a better way. One that can strip away much of the pressure and anxiety of being creative. And that’s acknowledging that context is king.

Now, this isn’t a ode to plagiarism and i’m certainly not advocating stealing someone’s work. I’m simply saying that not every solution has to be original. Acknowledging the context you’re in and adapting ideas from elsewhere could work just as well.

What does this mean in practice? Well let’s take a look at those two parts of an original idea.

Something that’s innovative

  • New doesn’t have to mean ‘never thought of before’.
  • New can mean ‘never used in this context before’ that means looking at solutions from another situation and adapting the idea to meet the one you’re in.

Something that stands out

  • Standing out is a matter of being remarkable.
  • Being remarkable can come from using an approach that’s rarely done just as much as never done.
  • You don’t have to reinvent the wheel to get noticed; sure the Think Small ads stand out as a landmark in advertising, but it wasn’t the first time white space had be employed, just the first time it had been executed in the automobile sector.

Never abandon creative expression, the search for originallity and innovation helps us all. There was so many great things in the world right now that wouldn’t exist if no one ever wanted to be original. But, please do not kill yourself over being original either.

It can be just as rewarding to focus your energy on research and adapting existing concept to the situation you’re in. This may not come with the same thrill of being the first to do something, but this creative combination of existing ideas can prove just as powerful and save you a bunch of time and energy.

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