I was reading a blog post last week about the benefit of copying as a means of learning something new, such as blogging. A writer named Di Mace was saying, "From copying, you then begin to understand, and from understanding you then start to play and transform.
You'll connect and combine ideas, thoughts, styles, contents; transforming and fusing them into something new. Finally, to make sure you understand everything, you'll try modifying. If the result of your modification meets with your expectations, then you have finally learned something." http://writetodone.com/2011/08/25/why-copying- inspires-creativity/
So what is your gut reaction to that? Initially, it took me straight back to my school days where copying was just not on! However, Di has a really good point. Don't we learn most of our skills from early childhood from observing and then copying those around us? Why is that suddenly such a bad idea? Is this why we feel guilty when we want to reproduce something known with our own twist on it? Are we really cheating?
We put so much pressure on ourselves to be original when we create. We want to be groundbreakers. We want to be new, original and fantastic! Everyone wants to create the best seller, the perfect photograph, the award winning business idea, the revolutionary invention, the perfect child rearing technique... that list could could go on for pages. The issue is, how to get started on that path, guilt free. Finding the answer comes back to basic learning, problem solving and harnessing our creative skills. You have to start with what you know, what you can see and what you can lay your hands on. Then, you can move forward.
The idea of copying something existing to come up with something new, fits in with definitions of creativity. At it's simplest, the meaning of create is "to fit together." Studying creativity takes in the disciplines of philosophy, psychology and cognitive science. It can be hard to define exactly what creativity is, as it means different things to different people. One definition is: "To be creative is to be able to associate, recombine or reorganise formerly unrelated ideas, facts, subjects or objects to produce something that is original and useful and probably unexpected."(Bruno Pieroni)
In Cyndi Kaplan's book on business and creativity she says, "In the Balinese language there is no noun for the word art. The guiding philosophy in Balinese life is expressed in active verbs, to dance, to sing, to paint, to play. Art is a noun label. It is static. The essence of creativity is the doing, to work, play, see, touch, laugh, cry and build... You are in the process of doing, of fitting parts together, of making connections and creating something that didn't exist before. Don't judge what you do. Don't analyse how you do it. Enjoy the moment. Feel free to experiment, discover new ideas and explore new dimensions."
Try it. Start with what you know, figure out how you'd like to express your own ideas, feelings and understanding of the subject (whether it be art or solving any kind of problem at home or in business) then see what you can come up with.
A few months ago, I told my autobiography writers that to be a successful writer, you need the traits of a warrior: clear intent; fearlessness; determination; and the willingness to conquer new territory. It is the same for any form of creation. You need to be able to shut out the criticism, the self doubt, the superiority of any competitors and your own dissatisfaction with what you have done. Those negatives will always be
there. The trick is to push them aside and keep working on your project until you are happy. So find something that inspires you this week and get copying! (It's not cheating. Not even close.)
This article is Copyright Cate Russell-Cole 2012. It may only be reproduced, with my permission, for non commercial purposes only. My name and Copyright must remain intact. For permission, please email me at: email@example.com