As creatives, we dread the ominous feeling that whatever it is we want to do has already been done.
And – horror of horrors – that it’s all been done and done better than we could ever do it.
So let’s get right down to it, then, guys. Let’s play this harrowing mind game all the way to its bitter end, shall we?
Here’s the truth:
If you are reading it, it’s been done.
If you can see it, hear it, taste it or touch it, it means someone brought it forward into existence already and it can now be experienced, held, by others.
Makes sense, right.
And if this is true – that everything in front of us has already been done – then the reverse is also true. That the only things not yet done are not in front of us.
Everything that’s new, everything that’s fresh, only exists inside our minds. We can’t touch it, we can only imagine it, dream it up, wonder about it.
It doesn’t exist in the world, therefore, we will not find it by looking out into the world.
Of course, we are influenced and inspired by what already exists. We read or see something that sparks us, that ignites something within, that flickers into an idea – maybe a few ideas. We ingest a million random messages everyday and a gripping few stand out for us for whatever reason: a color, a note, a word, a click, a feeling.
And we begin, in our own way, to connect those random shimmers, those wild little dots.
We turn inward and watch them spin, some catching the light of our imaginations, some deflecting it. Insights, surprises and messages begin to emerge as we engage with what we’ve seen before and develop what we’d like to show next.
The only way to mine what has yet to be done is to get into our minds, into ourselves, and get curious. Get inspired to pour something forward that can only come from within. From a place no one else can look, no one else can see, no one else can find.
“The crowd loses interest, the crowd denigrates the work, the crowd isn’t serious.
Worst of all, sometimes the crowd turns into a mob, out of control and bloodthirsty.
But people, people are real.
People will look you in the eye.”
In a crowded, noisy world it can often seem like we have to be constantly ahead of something – ahead of the crowd, ahead of the trend, leading the next big thing. We have to get ‘there’ first and we have to figure out the next platform or the next angle and . . . quickly!
Someone is always on our heels, right behind us, hollering what they’ve done, what they know and how well they know it.
“The crowd is the gathering place of the weakest; true creation is a solitary act.”
– Charles Bukowski, from Sunlight Here I Am
We are constantly clawed at, ceaselessly prodded to look outside of ourselves to find out what we should be doing and who we need to keep up with. But that’s a lot of bullshit. The minute we feel like we’re chasing, we’re losing touch with our inner creative.
What we need to do more often is look within, sit quietly with our own thoughts, form our own ideas, and give those individual ideas a voice. We deserve this. Not so that we can prove anything to the crowd or even to necessarily lead the pack but simply because what we truly crave is to express ourselves, not reflect the masses.
“Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different.
The good poet welds his theft into a whole feeling which is unique, utterly different from that which it was torn.”
– T.S. Eliot
If we are after what is unique, what’s never been done, the only place to look is in. That’s where the mysterious wilderness grows; where the truly exotic swells.
It’s tough to crowd out the crowd. You are only one person, after all, and “they” are a big faceless mob of what seems bigger, better, faster, slicker.
And oh, the crowd,
But your mind, the way you pull meaning out of things and the way you choose to shine light on certain ideas and shadow others, is as powerful and intimate as it gets. That is the real stuff of intrigue and desire. What lives inside you no one can touch.
We don’t need more, we need rich. We don’t need big, we need meaningful.
We don’t need the crowd, we need you. We hunger to connect with you.
No one else in the world can do what you do the way you do it.
Don’t worry about the crowd – they don’t know what they want until it’s in front of them. Get to what’s inside and feast your beautiful, individual mind on that.
That’s the stuff that can never be done.
Until you do it.
~ ~ ~
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