The quest for innovation

innovationAt one point or another every creative person must feel that everything has been done before. Everything worth writing, worth painting, worth saying. That the essential is there, for everyone to understand, that we can’t possibly capture the essence of life without being copies of someone else.

This is an universal urge, in a way. We feel that we need to step outside certain boundaries, that we have to forget about the rules in order to innovate. We want to be original, to create something new. We want to create a big enough change in the world that’s going to last forever.

And it’s so because we want to be different. Which is okay. But it shouldn’t be a goal.

You want to set up a blog, and you ask yourself, “What makes me so different that people would like to read my stuff? Maybe everything I write has already been written by others. Then, what’s the purpose? Why waste precious time and energy doing what has already been done?”

I’ve spent more time thinking about original ideas, brilliant, one of a kind ideas for my stories than I’ve spent writing. At least in the first few years.

Then I realized that by doing this you lose focus on what really matters. And it’s kind of stressful, actually. It’s like wanting to reach the destination, but you also want to skip the five hour long drive. You want the idea, but you don’t want to work for it.

This, in fact, is searching for a shortcut. If the idea is good enough, the way you present it won’t even matter. At least, that’s how most people think. Now, that’s really dangerous, because you lose sight of what’s important.

If you’re a writer, it’s important to write. And to read. And to write again. About anything, about everything, and every once in a while you should also have fun. The goal is to create something, anything, not something original. Or great. Or something that will sell.

By accident, and only by accident, you’ll create something original. But that shouldn’t be your goal.

Writing is not complicated or terrifying or anything. We just make it sound so, because we’re scared that it’s incredibly easy. You have to sit down and write. Your brain does the rest. Even when you’re tired, even when you don’t feel like it. Even when you’d much rather go fishing. Especially if you hate fishing.

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19 thoughts on “The quest for innovation

  1. A very insightful post. It constantly surprises me how much time I have spent worrying about writing the next masterpiece, as opposed to just picking up the pen and writing what I want. Thanks for reminding me the importance of letting go and just writing.

  2. Wise words. I forget that the road to creativity is long and winding with many potholes. Just wanting to write isn’t good enough.

  3. What has been done before has been done from someone else’s unique perspective. Nothing is duplicated en masse: a fragment here and there, but everything changed in each person’s unique way.
    There are schools of working now which claim that all language has been used, they don’t wish to add more. It is nonesense, really: elements are always in use – to say this phrase, that idea, have already been used is to miss out on the new context, new shading given them. How can there be a new? All is in flux; the change is slow to our perception perhaps and so seems stable, but it is not. New is a change of weighting to a word, phrase, idea.
    Whatever you do, even if you copy something of verbatim, it is still new and unique because of context, that huge web of implications and possibilities.
    Have fun.

  4. Well said!!! I found this at the right time – when I am constantly worrying about not being able to think differently to write new things or do anything original. Thanks for writing such a great post!

  5. I agree that bottling up ideas is not the way to innovation.. it’s all about the expression… once your creativity gains momentum, there’s no stopping it… the mind stays fresh, and so does the material… no need to write to be original when we are each original… just write what you feel, and that will be new

  6. I love that someone else thinks of writing like this and has actually said/posted it. For some writers or those who want to be writers, they become so overwhelmed with this large looming cloud hanging over their heads, judging what they have yet to put to paper.
    I’ve always found writing to be give and take. Sometimes I find writing so simple I think something must be amiss. Sometimes I find it so difficult to complete a thought, I think something must be amiss. In either case, I’m left to wonder sometimes if it is worth it, if it hasn’t been said before, and then I think, ‘but I haven’t said it before, it’s worth something to me right now.’
    The battle is always on going and eventually (perhaps when you become a paid working writer, if that is your goal) you finally win the war. We just have to keep at it, dream and wrote hard, and hope for the best in the end.

  7. I agree for the most part; writers get so obsessed about “originality” that they overlook everything else. While originality is a good thing it doesn’t mean anything if whatever your writing is lacking in many other areas. However, I notice that, as a reader, the books or poems that I remember most may not have had the most “unique” premises, but were still each individuated in their approach, making them memorable. So I think the key is to not get too hung-up on being unique, but at the same time try to develop an original voice or approach, naturally.

  8. This really spoke to me. Can’t seem to get past the idea generation phase, like some kind of commitment phobe who’s afraid to start a relationship. Guess it’s time to just do it.

  9. Creativity is never structured. I love this post. I do write, art, DJ and engineer music and I do not like having a structure. Been trying to start writing a novel for the past few weeks. I’ll just do it!

  10. This is so true … it’s so easy to get caught up with other people’s talent that you forget about your own ability to write (or sing, play, create or teach). Ideas can be shared but its their expression that will always be unique.

  11. I am sorry to have to point but the link to your website provided on your Twitter page is wrong. You should change it from Irevuo.com to Irevuo.net. Otherwise the people who find you on twitter will go to another website if they click that link.

  12. Well said! Particularly about short cuts. When has a short cut ever taken us where we truly desire? I know we are all born unique thus our ideas hold unparalleled precedence. Your ideas may not be exclusive but your narrative is as individual as you are. Your unique style spins yet another thread to weave into the elusive cloth of connection, validation, and purpose. So yes! Write, read, re-write, push past unraveling doubt and share the fiber of your being!

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