Wtf is Creativity?

A friend of mine recently shared a Twitter post with me that got me upset. I wont share it here because I don’t wanna give this tweet any power.

No Power Here GIFs | Tenor

But in short, some young punk decided it would be “funny” to retweet a short synopsis that another author shared and write a terrible poem teasing this author about how uncreative the synopsis was.

Yuck GIF by moodman - Find & Share on GIPHY

It appeared to me that both the synopsis writer and the poet were a little naive to the ways of Twitter and the #WritingCommunity there, but nonetheless… I was furious when I saw that. I also volunteered to beta read for that author because they deserves kindness and an honest opinion about his work.

The friend who shared this with me is a very good friend and we talk about creativity all the time. Originality and Creativity are hard to come by these days.

Chew on some facts real quick:

Facts GIFs | Tenor
  • Humans have been on the planet for millions of years, thinking (basically) with the same nervous system as one another for that whole time.
  • There are 130 million published books, Google said.
  • The first “book” was a scroll, used in ancient Egypt.
  • Cave drawings were the first “written” story telling.
  • 600 AD saw the first illustrations on parchment – Illuminated Manuscripts
  • 1454 – Printing press. Boom. Thank you, Johannes

Humans, books, story telling and illustration have such a looooong history. So why do some people think that we are not allowed to have the same ideas? It’s impossible not to have SIMILAR ideas at the least.

And think about this! When it comes to writing stories, we are PURPOSELY given categories and tropes to make stories relatable to readers.

What do you think Genres are?

Genre GIFs | Tenor

Genres literally tell readers that this book will remind them of another one they read in the same category. I’m not saying that every book in a genre is identical, that would be a lie, but genre books are gonna ring a bell.

Books that are hailed as original, often fall into genres and contain tropes that we all know. If Original means that no one can do it before you, then… there is nothing.

So what the f*&k is creativity? What is originality?

“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul… Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent… In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to.”

[MovieMaker Magazine #53 – Winter, January 22, 2004 ]”
― Jim Jarmusch

Seriously. Nothng is Original.

Instead of dwelling on how original or unoriginal a thing is, dwell on the feelings that old and new literature gives you. If something is a blatant copy and frustrates you, then be mad at the story. If something is a blatant copy but you love it, then be happy with the story.

One of my favorite copy cats: Stephen King. In this post I talked about how some of his books are heavily inspired by Bram Stoker’s Dracula and movies released during his career.

No one is calling ‘Salem’s Lot or Christine unoriginal because of WHAT KING DID WITH HIS STORY. ‘Salem’s Lot IS a vampire story about people venturing to a vampires lair to slay him. Christine is a cheeky story about a possessed car. Both of those ideas were created before King wrote his books.

What do you think creativity is? Is anything original? Share your thoughts!

6 Comments

  1. Ichabod Ebenezer

    Ecclesiastes 1:9 says “There’s Nothing New Under the Sun,” claiming every original thought or deed has already happened, and we’re just repeating ourselves now. It goes on to say that if anyone ever points to something and says, look here, this is new, it has been already in the ages before us.

    If every original idea had already been thought even back then, but they didn’t have The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, I think that taking old ideas and arranging them in interesting ways is where creativity lies. There were swords with a will of their own, and huts on chicken legs that obeyed their master’s commands long before Christine. But the relationship between Arnie and his car, their shared obsession and bloodlust, was a new take on the idea.

    Honestly, I think one shouldn’t worry too much whether their idea is new, but whether it has been done their way before. (Spoiler alter: It probably hasn’t.)

  2. Lyndle

    I love this post. As a reader I could not agree more. The originality of any creative artist, in music, art, fashion, writing, textiles, gardening, blacksmithing… is in what they themselves bring to the base elements. The fundamentals of a good story are probably unchanged since forever, but each writer is unique, and it’s how they bring their unique imagination, experience, language and wayof seeing the world to the story that gives it its resonance.

    1. Tiffany

      I’m glad you agree! Talking about how “uncreative” we are can sometimes rub people the wrong way if they think they are creative or that artists should be creative. Giving us some kindness as artists and understanding the nature of the creative process can sometimes be lacking so I’m glad to see your perspective!

  3. ShiraDest

    Exactly: we each have a different perspective due to our slightly different experiences, or rather way of experiencing those experiences due to our early lives and our on-going choices, and that makes anything each person writes slightly different, to begin with.

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