“There is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9)
Nothing is original. In order to generate the best content, we gather information and ideas from sources we love. We then use these ideas to formulate our own creative content, with the hope that someone will one day borrow from us.
We’ve always been stealing.
In his New York Times Bestseller, Austin Kleon advises his readers to “Steal like an Artist.” He notes that we should start to discover our own voice by copying our heroes. Since no one is born knowing exactly who they want to be in life, we have all developed parts of who we are from other people. One of my dearest friends once told me that you are the average of the five people you are closest to. Pick your five people, think about your favorite qualities in each of them, then begin to process who you’ve become.
Why stealing is okay.
Stealing and copying are not plagiarizing. Instead of parading someone’s content as your own, stealing like an artist entails finding content that you like, figuring out why you enjoyed it, and copying the originator’s motivations.
Marita Sturken and Lisa Cartwright note a similar process in their discussion of cultural appropriation. They use the term bricolage to describe the idea that we “make do” with components of popular ideals, especially within youth consumer culture. For example, Doc Martins were sold as orthopedic and work boots in the 1940s-60s. However, they became a feature of the late 20th century grunge and neopunk youth subculture. Teens wearing black Gothic dresses and Doc Martins weren’t plagiarizing an element of past culture; they were reinventing an existing aspect of society.
But what does this mean for a blog post?
It means that the world is full of untapped Doc Martin-esque ideas to steal from. It means that creativity is the process of recycling things we love into new forms of communication and connectivity. Therefore, in order to become content with your content, you must learn to appreciate the world around you and steal it in the best possible way.
This post is nothing new. I adore Kleon’s book and am trying to embody his energy as I write. This blog is also not original. I’ve been inspired by political bloggers young and old, partisan and non, government and civilian. And the buck doesn’t stop here; My content is designed for you. Steal from me, discuss my content.
Start your own.