You don’t have to be 100% original
…to create unique content
Hey there —
Great ideas are the backbone of every successful creator. 💡
But if you’ve ever searched a topic on YouTube, browsed the shelves of your local library, or strolled through an art gallery, you’ve probably realized that the odds of coming up with a 100% unique, never-before-seen idea are slim. Maybe not impossible, but…rare. 💎
So does that mean you’re doomed to make copycat content, or spend weeks, months, or years trying to land on that one brilliant “I can’t believe no one’s done this before!” story?
While it may be true that there’s “nothing new under the sun,” it’s still possible to generate unique ideas that you’re excited about and that provide value for your audience.
But how? If most ideas are actually remixes of what’s already been done, what makes something “original”?
The answer is simple, and something only you possess: your perspective.
Or, as journalist Barbara Grizzuti Harrison once said, “There are no original ideas. There are only original people.”
Think of it this way — saying “I can’t talk about X subject because X person already has,” would be like a chef saying “I can’t have potatoes on my menu because McDonald’s already makes French fries.”
Sounds ridiculous, right? There are a million ways to cook a potato. And certainly more than one way to make French fries.
It’s not about the potatoes or the fries themselves, it’s what you do with them. What’s your chili cheese sauce? Your crinkle cut? Your poutine, your “Animal Style”? What is the thing you’re adding to the dish that makes it yours?
As creators we try to be as original as possible, but at the end of the day there’s going to be some overlap between ours and other creators’ ideas and content. But when you lean into what makes you unique, you won’t lose any sleep over these coincidences.
The key is to, in the words of Mark Twain, “...take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations.”
Your specific voice, personal experiences, and unique blend of interests are essential to your storytelling — and can all lend a fresh take (aka “new and curious combinations”) to common themes and topics.
Instead of stressing out over creating 100% original content, work to tell stories in a way that reflects your perspective, personality, and style. And whatever your chosen subject, focus on bringing your most authentic self to the page, screen, or canvas.
Because when it comes to creative ideas, you are the main ingredient in your original-recipe sauce.🥫
Why do we get our best ideas in the shower?
by Richard Sima
You’ve likely experienced the feeling of creative epiphany while reaching for the shampoo bottle. But did you know the “shower effect” is a scientifically studied phenomenon? 🚿
Research has shown that these “aha!” moments are the result of being in the “sweet spot” of an engaging activity that simultaneously allows our minds to wander — and that these moments of inspiration aren’t limited to bath time.
Check out this article for more on the science of shower thoughts and how you can harness this effect to improve your creativity.
Advice on life and creative integrity from Calvin and Hobbes creator, Bill Watterson
by Maria Popova
“The truth is, most of us discover where we are headed when we arrive. At that time, we turn around and say, yes, this is obviously where I was going all along. It’s a good idea to try to enjoy the scenery on the detours, because you’ll probably take a few.”
This is just one of many beautiful pieces of advice cartoonist Bill Watterson shared with the Kenyon College graduating class in his 1990 commencement speech. (And the rest are very much worth the read.)
Sharing what he learned on his own creative journey — from years of rejection to the darker side of success — Watterson offers insights on how to maintain creativity, define your own success, and build “a life that reflects your values and satisfies your soul.”
There is no such thing as “junk” food
By Anne Helen Peterson
If you were to sort food into categories of “healthy” and “unhealthy,” how would you define things? Where would you place an apple…a slice of pizza…a Ceasar salad? 🥗
Writer and journalist Anne Helen Peterson reflects on the “rules,” assumptions, and biases that affect how we view what we eat, and offers an alternative way of thinking about food — one that ultimately encourages us to remove shame from the menu.
What’s your biggest piece of advice about productivity?
— Rana, Texas
The best way to be more productive isn’t a task manager, calendar app or one of the many creative tricks that help you stay focused. It's about finding balance in a world that often discourages rest.
Or in other words, if you want to be productive…make time for not worrying about being productive.
Click the link to hear more from Matt on how to do just that.
Got a question for the Slow Growth team? Click here to send it our way!
Written by Ashley Martin
Edited by Matt D'Avella