It’s an interesting question. If everything has been done before, if there are no new ideas, then why should I keep trying to create something? I don’t believe that I am fated or gifted to be “the greatest of all time” as a writer or photographer or cook or whatever. So if my work will always be less than the best, why bother?
I would say this is a very American way of thinking. We are the land of “Second place is first loser”. That may sound tough and dedicated and success oriented. In fact, I would contend that it’s asinine. Because at it’s best it’s an argument for active mediocrity (why bother trying to be good?) and at worst, it’s an excuse to simply quit (why bother?).
Creativity isn’t a competition, with a single exception. If you want to be creative so you can be the greatest of all time the odds say you are going to fail. Which means you will gain no joy from what you are doing. Creativity dies in the absence of joy. So do what brings you joy. The only competition is with yourself. Are you growing in your creative endeavors? Are you using your gifts to their fullest? That’s winning when it comes to creativity.
With that in mind, I really liked this post by James Clear, “Stay on the Bus – The Proven Path to Unique and Meaningful Work“. Clear writes an e-mail with tips on the habits and methods of successful people in many areas of interest. What really struck me is the 2004 commencement speech by Arno Rafael Minkkinen. The Finnish photographer spoke about his “Helsinki Bus Station Theory”. In short he says to simply keep doing what you want to do. Look for opportunities along the way, rather than looping back to search for that something “special” that only you can do. Clear makes some additional good points afterward, especially about the “10,000 hour rule”, which is often misunderstood. The post isn’t long and well worth the read.
Creativity leads your forward, not backwards. Forward to the best you that you can be. Forward to the fullest expression of your gifts. Forward to the simple joy of creativity.
Create what brings you joy.