All My Work Sucks: 5 Ways I’m Trying To Be More Original
If you’re not original, and you’re an artist, you suck, you need to change. Or take drugs. Do something to shock your brain into a new way of thinking. If you have nothing new to say, or you don’t have a new way to say it then you need reconsider what you’re doing.
It’s a frustrating thought. It’s actually a scary thought because so few of us are original. It’s hard to think that what we contribute is redundant or not necessary. That what we’re pouring our soul into is just…not good. And confronting that is a bitch.
But it’s not the end of the road…
It may not be your natural inclination to be original, to be honest I don’t think it’s mine. I wish it was though. So I’ve been looking at ways to create it—to make myself original.
1. Get out
The first thing I did was leave home. I needed to get out of my usual environment, and it’s done a world of good. So I got a short term gig somewhere else. There’s nothing like changing the way you think than sitting in a Delhi slum sweating your balls off with a bunch of taxi drivers.
It also takes you out of your comfort zone and exposes you to new ideas. What’s 6 months? Nothing. Pack your bags and gtfo. Changing your environment has a funny way of changing your thinking. It’s also cliche so let’s move on.
2. Change what you do
The second thing I did was force myself to do new things. I’m far from middle age but I’m no spring chicken either. I’m a little set in my ways, more so than I ever thought. So I tried doing things I wouldn’t normal do.
I emailed random people who interested me in the art scene to meet them for drinks, I went on tinder (shocker) and started dating, I stopped drinking, I started drinking, then I stopped again. I joined meetups, I started waking up at 6 am (well…7:30 but that’s a big step for me), I re-arranged my priorities and changed where I put my time.
It may not look like much to you but these are big life changes, changes that were concerted shifts in the way I do things. Has it led to more originality? It’d definitely given me more ideas, more connections, and some new perspectives.
What about output?
3. Be Prolific
I mentioned in another article something a gallerist once told me: to be a painter you need to fill your apartment with paintings and then MAYBE you’re ready to start selling (ie you have something to offer).
I’m not prolific enough. That’s something I’m trying to change (refer to tip #2). You need to produce a lot of unoriginal boring crap before you actually start making good shit. Gotta get all that crap out in a hurry.
If you’re a painter, paint until you get high from the fumes. If you’re a musician, play until you get evicted. If you’re a writer, write until the boring drivel you write makes you question your sanity.
Very few people are original from the start and those that are, though beautiful souls, are also kind of fucked up. As original as I want to be, I’m glad I don’t have a personality disorder. But that doesn’t mean that without practice, and a little luck, I won’t hit on something worth contributing.
4. Be unoriginally original
This is counterintuitive: you can be original in an unoriginal way. Cross fertilization of ideas (sexy term right?) is the greatest way to spur innovation. Taking an idea from one area and applying it to another is a great way to start changing the medium,
Another way is to be original in the same way someone else was. Take da Vinci’s way of blurring all his paintings to simulate the imperfection of human vision. You could do a similar think in a novel and blur details like human memory.
To take the da Vinci think even further you could even look to other disciplines. Take some interesting idea out of astrophysics, medicine, or Hindu mythology and incorporate it into your work or the way you see the world.
I love this, I love any kind of amalgamation of idea. Whenever I write anything I always find that somehow I’ve incorporated the last thing I’ve read even if it is really tangentially related to the topic.
But I also do want to be intrinsically originally and for that…
5. Drugs, just kidding shift your paradigm
I wanna do shrooms. I’m not recommending this. At all. I want to shock my brain into thinking more creatively. I come from a science background, a very boring science background, and though I used to be more creative my brain has been trained to work a certain way.
Psilocybin might be the way for me to really see life a little differently. The point of this is not to tell you to do drugs (which again, I am not doing), but to tell you that sometimes you need a paradigm shift. That can come from many ways: a propitious conversation, a moment in the woods, or the right epiphany at the right time.
Looking for a paradigm shift is hard. It takes work. You need to throw a bunch of mud against the wall and see what sticks. You can’t make it happen, but you can make yourself open to the possibility and make increase the chances of it happening by doing all the rest of this stuff on the list.
I’ve been drug averse my whole life but now that I’m in the right headspace and am old enough to do something with a certain level of maturity, I’m down. Find your own way to shift paradigms.
Originality is tough but it’s the only thing worth doing. Spend the time and produce something of value.