I’ve thinking about my Baroque Violet Hanten and how to steal a few more hours in the day to work on it and get it finished. Right after I started that, I was reading Fringe Association and Karen’s latest idea log, where she talks about her gorgeous indigo fabric and wanting to make a kimono jacket out of it. Then my Pinterest feed was brimming with Japanese inspired jackets and straight up traditional Japanese clothing.
It stuck me how many times it seems like when you’ve got a new idea that idea seems to be cropping up all over the place at the same time, as if there’s some universal unconsciousness feeding everyone. That sensation is the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon (aka: frequency illusion). Simply put, you’re seeing it everywhere because you’re more aware of whatever it is in the first place because it’s been on your mind.
Before I learned about it, whenever I had a creative idea that I was mulling, if I saw something like it anywhere else, I’d abandon the idea completely. I’d really beat myself up over it. What a stupid, ordinary idea it must be, I’d tell myself. It’s everywhere. It’s already been done to death.
But it hasn’t.
The thing is that while I might be thinking “Blue Japanese Inspired Jacket” and someone else is thinking “Blue Japanese Inspired Jacket” how I go from idea to execution will be completely my own.
The same is true with writing. You could give a room full of people a random, three word, writing prompt (bar, diver, lipstick), tell them to write about whatever comes to mind, and no two people in the room would write the same thing. You could give a more specific writing prompt like “Start with the first line ‘The snow is my business partner.'” and there would still be no two stories alike.
Life is complex. Each of us brings our own unique experiences and worldview to the table. One person writing might be a gun-toting, vegan with a passion for live-tweeting Project: Runway and see through that lens. Another might be a trans-man, Christian, hoping to move to the Caribbean and start a dive charter business and see through that lens.
Tapping into what’s unique in each of us is where the real originality in any creative effort lies.