I recently sat down to plan a novel. After my somewhat successful month of NaNoWriMo, I really wanted to push myself past the 20,000 words I’d already written and write something brand new. I already had a couple of plot ideas floating around in my head and so I started to plan. But barely a few minutes in, I hit a brick wall. Everything I was writing down felt too familiar.
I’d fallen into the trap, that creative black hole of ‘it’s all been done before.’ And I finished my very short period of planning feeling deflated, incompetent and honestly, just really boring. Was it really true that I didn’t have an original idea?
I sat with this for a few days. I felt at a complete loss and it bled into other areas for a while. Why blog if all the posts have been written before? Why contemplate a blog newsletter when the internet is already saturated with them? Why do anything when everything has already been done?
The dawn of technology has been both hugely inspiring and soul-destroying for creativity. It has allowed humanity to do things we could never have dreamed of, whilst also forcing original thought into a thing of the past. Not only that, but we’re constantly confronted with what those have done before us. All those missed opportunities, the ‘if only I’d done that sooner,’ or ‘why didn’t I think of that?’
But on reflection, I’ve realised that I’ve been looking at this all wrong. It’s not that I don’t have any original ideas. I have loads. They’re just all big ones. They’re risky. Ones that would take time, effort and a leap of faith.
It’s not my lack of originality that’s holding me back. It’s my fear of failure, it’s a worry that I can’t do these things, so it’s easy to stay in my comfort zone and continue plodding along. Whether that’s creatively, career wise or my personal life, I have to step outside of the safe area and walk head first into the part of my brain that’s brimming with weird and wonderful ideas.
It isn’t that technology has meant that original ideas have died, it isn’t that any of us are lacking the ability to produce them, it’s something within us that is struggling to break that mindset. And it’s time to fix that.