Sometimes, as a creative being, we find ourselves in a position where we think we’re creating something new when we have, in actual fact, done it before. Some people might call this a personal motif, a signature that characterises what we do. Others would see it as creative bankruptcy; a sign that the end of the creative peak is nigh. Sometimes it’s just a case that we actually don’t recognise it ourselves.
Tonight, I discovered a blog post that I had written some time ago. See, I keep all my blogs on my computer under a folder called “Blogs” (funnily enough), but I haven’t (until tonight) separated the “posted” ones from the “unposted” ones. I stumbled across this old blog, read it through and thought it was pretty good, and shipped it off to the editor of aussietheatre.com, only for her to tell me I had posted it previously.
Which got me to thinking: how can we avoid repeating ourselves? This is what I came up with:
#1: Be organised.
Yes, lesson learned tonight. Look, creative people are not the most organised people. We might be able to multitask, and we can fool people that we know where “that piece of paper with all the important stuff on it” is in the swathe of other pieces of equally important bits of paper, but in reality, we’re not terribly organised. Put things away. Title things. Put things in order. Find a space for your ideas.
#2: Don’t be afraid of repeating yourself.
Let’s be honest, we all have a signature that informs the audience of what our art is. But the more we fight against it, I reckon the more we stifle our true ability to create and also step outside of our creative “box”. Some of the most successful songwriters are known to repeat themselves with minor changes (look at a LOT of pop music today!), and artists have a “look” that represents their view on things. Writers often have a pattern that works for them and their audience. But the moment we put pressure on ourselves to be creatively something that we’re not, that’s when we can hit the wall called “writer’s block”.
#3: Know what you know and know what you don’t.
And work towards pushing your own personal knowledge so that what you know you know becomes more knowledgable and you discover more about what you don’t know so what you can know more about it. Geddit?
#4: Check the past.
There’s a great book by Dean Koontz in which one of his characters systematically checks her compositions against things she has already done. See, we can be prolific, but sometimes we discover that we’ve actually just written the same thing twice. Or perhaps we “rediscover” something that we think is “found” only to learn that it’s already used (yes, I’m talking from direct experience here!). It doesn’t hurt to just have a quick glance back at our catalogue of work, just to make sure we haven’t made a replica of something we’ve already done. Now, this is different to #2 because it implies that we make a conscious decision to repeat ourselves, where as #4 is an accidental and direct “Oops, I’ve already done this!”
I don’t know if this is going to help anyone, but it’s certainly helped me!
Until next time,
Blog ya later!