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What is the Difference Between Creative and Original?

Before I give you my 3 reasons why I don’t have to be both creative and original as a writer, let me tell you what inspired this blog post.

Black and white photograph of 7 men in American Western cowboy clothes. Each one is pointing a gun. The words "Room at the O.K. Corral for us all." is superimposed on the image. Creative and Original.

After spending quite some time on European historical research for a screenplay, I came across something surprising. Someone has already come up with the same idea.

At first I was rather disappointed and then it dawned on me.
They haven’t used my angle!

“An artistic re-interpretation of a famous painting is likely quite creative. What’s more, it is probably the first time that specific combination of design elements has come together. In the end though, it is still a re-interpretation, and while it may be ingenious, it isn’t the first true look at the underlying material.”

Originality means building each and every block of your art from scratch, but that is very rare to happen. On the other hand, uniqueness means using a combination of original and derived elements and coming up with a new arrangement.

Is It Possible to Be Both Creative and Original?

As someone has wisely commented,

No artist can be completely original, we all learn from different people, we get influenced by different people and we draw inspiration from many others.”

Creative and Original: What’s More Important?

Hear what what Elizabeth Gilbert has to say on the subject of being creative and original.

“Anyhow, the older I get, the less impressed I become with originality. These days, I’m far more moved by authenticity. Attempts at originality can often feel forced and precious, but authenticity has quiet resonance that never fails to stir me.”

― Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

I also concur with her conclusion:

“So this, I believe, is the central question upon which all creative living hinges: Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?”

Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

That’s exactly the challenge I was referring to when I wrote about “Laboring for Authenticity” in regard to my book of short stories on the Holocaust, Tiergartenstrasse 4.

Readers, you probably don’t want your authors to merely copy the idea, theme or even writing style of another writer in a slavish manner. More likely you want them to creatively express what’s in their hearts and minds, in their own unique way.

You see I don’t have to be both creative and original because:

  • creativity does not depend on or require originality
  • it is almost impossible for a modern writer to be original
  • it is more important to be authentic and creative than to be original (Elizabeth Gilbert and Jeff Goins both say so)
  • I don’t know about you, but I enjoyed both of the films, Wyatt Earp and Tombstone, which just goes to show there’s room at the O.K. Corral for us all (if you want to write a screenplay that is).

    There is always room for a new book (or even screenplay!) on the same subject; everyone can have a unique insight.

    Image Credit

    1959 series leads Will Hutchins (Sugarfoot), Peter Brown (Lawman), Jack Kelly (Maverick), Ty Hardin (Bronco), James Garner (Maverick), Wayde Preston (Colt .45), and John Russell(Lawman) Public Domain
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    File:Warner Brothers television westerns stars 1959.JPG
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