Huffpost Canada Living ca
THE BLOG

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Cheryl Muir Headshot

Why "No Idea Is An Original Idea" Is A Lie

Posted: Updated:
EMOTIONAL IQ
Warrenrandalcarr via Getty Images
Print

I'm a highly creative person. I have to create for the sake of my own well-being and mental health. I love it more than words can express, and when I write, something takes over. It's an incredible feeling that happens when we're engaged in an activity that we are truly passionate about.

There are other areas I'm not as strong in, of course. As an expressive, analytical tasks don't come naturally to me. Anything linear and 1-2-step drives me absolutely insane, to the point that I would rather jump in and figure it out myself than read a simple instruction manual. And you know what, it's okay -- because while we all have our strengths, we all have weaknesses too. Just as I'm strong creatively, other people may be weak in that area.

Which is why people copy the work of creatives.

And it sucks. Big time. To see your work stolen, butchered and plagiarized hurts on a deep, soul level. Now, there are certainly steps we can take to protect ourselves legally, but as a creative I'm not covering those details here - I'll leave that to the brilliant, sharp, left-brained legal minds out there. What I'm going to discuss is why people steal ideas and what they should do instead.

We're told "No idea is an original idea."

Respectfully, I disagree.

If an idea comes from your brain, and you haven't looked at or compared or copied anyone else's work in order to conceive that idea, then guess what -- that's an original idea. What usually happens though is we get all excited, think the idea is brilliant, and then we Google it like a crazy person and our hearts sink when we see something similar has been done before. But here's the thing: The fact that someone has created this before doesn't mean your idea isn't original.

It is original. Because it came from your mind and your mind alone.

I have a confession for you. When I started out in business, I was so unsure of my voice that I looked to other successful women for inspiration. That inspiration took the form of absorbing their content - videos, blog posts, social media copy. And before I knew it, I started to sound like them.

I have dubbed this Second Generation Copying

You're not intentionally pilfering someone's creation, but you are mimicking their voice and their tone. So it's still copying. Now, this one doesn't sting quite as much because it does come from a place of admiration. But it's also a signal of someone who isn't confident in their own voice and needs to sound like someone else.

The irony here? The person you're mimicking is inspiring to you because their content and voice is unique. Funny how that works, huh?

They say imitation is the highest form of flattery, but in all honesty I find it annoying as hell.

What's the sense in birthing ideas when we're all copying one another and birthing identical creative offspring? It's like we're in The Matrix and we're all lying in those weird jelly pods side-by-side, looking exactly the same and void of any of the quirks and eccentricities that make us human.

Do you want that? I don't.

Next time you need an idea, just close your eyes and ask the idea to come forward. Clear your mind. Don't think of your favourite guru. Just be. Be yourself.

And then, when inspiration strikes, you can be certain the idea is yours and yours alone.

Follow HuffPost Canada Blogs on Facebook