I have no issue with admitting I used to almost scoff at the phrase “creativity doesn’t happen in a vacuum.” I don’t remember why, but my guess is that I thought the idea of me being unable to create on my own was insulting.
Now that I’m older and have experienced more as a writer, reader, and editor, I can pretty confidently say I was completely wrong. It’s not that I don’t have confidence in my creative abilities—it’s that I finally noticed how everything influences everything else.
I won’t go so far as to say that nothing is original anymore, but that’s certainly a sentiment I hear from more cynical people. In my opinion, that’s only true in the sense that it’s virtually impossible to be fully un-swayed by the media you consume when creating your own work.
However, I will say that it may seem like there’s less original work in our times because we have access to so much more. Creators can more easily create, and consumers can more easily find things to consume. I don’t want to say we’re in excess of creative work (since there’s really no such thing when there are groups that need more representation), but we certainly have a lot more to choose from.
Regardless of how much we have when it comes to choices, it’s important to consume different ideas. This can range from other creative works, opinions that don’t mesh with yours, or outside your usual field of work or hobbies.
If you only work with your own thoughts and ideas, whatever you’re creating—be it an academic essay, review for something, or creative piece—won’t feel real or genuine enough. They’ll become a flat reflection of yourself, which may be fine in a draft but won’t pass for a final.
While I am absolutely guilty of not consuming much anymore, I’m making it a point to restart. I may not read as much as I used to, but I’m now consuming in different ways: learning a new language; finding new YouTube channels to watch; going outside my social comfort zone; running a Dungeons and Dragons campaign; and slowly beginning to read again, even though it’s at a much slower pace.
There are two important things to remember:
- Change doesn’t happen overnight, so keep consuming and broadening your horizons.
- Even if something you create is similar to something that already exists, so long as it isn’t plagiarized it’s still special and original because it was created with your specific perspective.
Is there something specific that really helps you find inspiration or helps you challenge your own views? Let us know!