Bernie Anderson
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the blog

Current musings, whatever they may be. 

Creativity: You Are Not Unique (Nor should you try to be. Instead, try this.)

One-of-a-kind is overrated. People who think they're being creative geniuses, singular, exceptional, noteworthy, unique, and novel — newsflash. You're only fooling yourself.

I don't believe uniqueness is always that unique. And if it is unique, it's seldom good. Creativity is not about being novel. Creativity has to do with the hard work of understanding and mastering the basics. Understand the structure. Understand the bones. The foundation. Know what’s at the root. Know your craft.

And here's the unexpected twist.

Unique and exceptional creativity begins when we start copying the work of others. Not in the plagiarizing sense. But, copy others as a student and a learner. Take the time to understand how Quinten Tarantino weaves a story. Don't be a demanding jerk because Steve Jobs was demanding (and apparently sometimes a jerk). Understand why Steve Jobs was so demanding. Understand the formula that's behind the Lennon/McCartney songwriting powerhouse. Because there is a formula. A process. A method and a blueprint for genius.

You are, in fact, a mashup of what you choose to let into your life.
— Austin Kleon

Get better at creating by getting better at consuming. Listening. Watching. Reading. Binging.

Do you want to write a song?

Listen to all the best songs from all the genres. Analyze them. Understand their structure. Know what makes them work.

Do you want to write world-class articles?

Read all the articles. Analyze them. Deconstruct them. Understand their structure.

Do you want to take the best pictures?

Look at the best pictures. Study them. Deconstruct them. How are they framed? What are the in-camera exposure settings? What is the photographer's technique?

Do you want to write a screenplay?

Binge a show on Netflix and write down the story structure. Track character arcs on an Excel spreadsheet.

The only way we find our own voice is by listening to the multitude of voices from Masters who have gone before you. Unique and remarkable comes from knowing the essentials and the basics of the craft we choose to pursue.

That's when real iteration can begin.