A while ago I read a little book on creativity called Hegarty on Creativity – There are No Rules by Sir John Hegarty. It was very interesting and informative, but one thing specifically stuck with me.
The author claims that there is no such thing as an original idea any more. At a time where everything has been done or at least tried before, everything we want to create will ultimately have been inspired by something which already exists. Since everything we do will be influenced by something we’ve seen or read or heard somewhere, it can’t be original. To be exact, he says:
“It is said that God was the last originator and the rest of us are just copyists. And the truth is that everything we create is based on something that’s gone before. […] Ideas borrow, blend, subvert, develop, and bounce off other ideas. So it’s an arrogance to say your idea is original. […] Being different and daring is important, but original? No. Now blatantly stealing someone else’s idea is wrong. But thinking that your idea is original is also wrong. Your idea only exists in relation to another idea. We all stand on each other’s shoulders and in doing so hopefully see further.” (p.20)
And I completely get it. I understand what he means. So much so that, every time I now hear people claim that what they do is original and has never been done before, I want to punch them in the face. I’m not a violent person so you can see what this book has done to me.
But is it true? Is originality truly dead? While it’s nice to think of your idea as something never seen before, how sure can you be that you’re correct? After all, something gave you that idea you’re now wanting to work with. It’s unlikely that your idea was born from nothing, with no cues or inspiration or reasons.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this! Do you agree that originality is dead? Or would you say that it’s all a load of rubbish?
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