Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Nothing Is Original

I am elbow-deep in Project P right now, but I hate to leave you, my wonderful readership, in silence! Therefore, I offer you this piece from Steal Like An Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon. If you have never heard of him, or read this book, you have now and I highly recommend not only the amazing read but the author himself (check him out on his website here). His book has been inspirational to me, and I'm only on #2!

To inspire you today, I offer a comforting excerpt from the book, entitled Nothing Is Original:

The writer Jonathan Lethem has said that when people call something "original," nine out of ten times they just don't know the references or the original sources involved.

What a good artist understands is that nothing comes from nowhere. All creative work builds on what came before. Nothing is completely original.

It's right there in the Bible: "There is nothing new under the sun." (Ecclesiastes 1:9)

Some people find this idea depressing, but it fills me with hope. As the French writer André Gide put it, "Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But, since no one was listening, everything must be said again."

If we're free from the burden of trying to be completely original, we can stop trying to make something out of nothing, and we can embrace influence instead of running away from it.

"What is originality? Undetected plagiarism."
- William Ralph Inge


  1. I've heard this idea before, but it's still one that I really like. I know all my stories have been born out of a million other things. I find it fun to trace back what ideas emerged from which things I read, or watched, or was involved in. ^^

    That doesn't always erase the worries over whether something is TOO similar, but... XD

  2. I love this! It's actually really freeing!

    Love all your posts and so I just nominated you for a blog award!