Not having an original idea is something that I hear a lot of writers complain about. People afraid to write because they don’t think what they have to say is new or unique. Yes, even I sometimes complain that I have nothing new to say.
It’s not just the writers who feel this way either. Filmmakers, artists, musicians, designers, and other creatives have, at times, all felt like what they are presenting to the world isn’t new, isn’t unique. But that’s just a load of crap. Maybe it’s not an original premise or plot, but what each artist does with it is completely original.
Just think about the Quest plot or premise. The Illiad is an example of a story about a quest. So are the Lord of the Rings and the Wizard of Oz and Raiders of the Lost Ark. And what about that ragtag, fugitive fleet on a lonely quest led by the last Battlestar, Galactica? I don’t think you can say that any of them are unoriginal. Any quest that we write will be unique, because our lives, our perspective, and our likes and dislikes are different from the other writers.
But what about remakes? How can directors or even singers just remake something that was done previously and still make it feel different? By putting their own unique stamp on it. The one that always comes to mind for me is Last Kiss, a song that was recorded in 1964 by J. Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers, about a teenager kissing his girlfriend one last kiss as she was dying. The song is sad, but the melody upbeat and that always bothered me about the song. Then in 2000, Pearl Jam redid the song. The same melody, a little slower, but the biggest change was the voice of the singers. In Eddie’s voice, you hear the raw pain of loss. Same song. Two different versions. One you can dance to. The other breaks your heart.
How about an actor, taking the stage as Hamlet? Hundreds, if not thousands of actors have played Hamlet in the past. But each actor has to find his own connection to the character, his own voice. Only then can Hamlet be seen over and over again, but feel different each time.
What about one of the most famous paintings of all time? Did you know that in 1888, Vincent van Gogh painted Starry Night on the Rhone? If he decided to do something completely different because he’d already done a painting of the stars at night, then the world would have been deprived of Starry Night, which he didn’t paint until 1889.
Go ahead and write that husband and wife mystery series, or design that dress with a flower print or paint that picture of the stars at night. Whatever you create will be different, will be original, will be innovative because you are bringing you and your inspiration to your work. It will be different because no one else sees with your eyes or thinks with your brain or creates with your soul.
What’s holding you back?