Below is a short article I wrote concerning the idea of "original" work, what makes a craft tutorial "inspired" and why we need to embrace the art of copying. This is the first of several articles I have planned that address craft topics for bloggers and I'm excited to include these in my blog repertoire.
Writing Tutorials just for Blog Posts
We all know it happens. We all do it. I will happily admit that many of the projects that decorate my home have started out as merely a way to fill a blog post. I've read other bloggers' posts that indicate that this somehow makes a project less authentic, or lesser quality. I disagree; our blogs are our motivation on days when we would rather exhaust random episodes of so-so shows on Hulu. As long as the "pressure" to perform on your blog doesn't overwhelm the desire to simply create, there is nothing wrong with creating projects solely to benefit your readers. If your blog is your motivation or your justification to allow yourself the freedom to create, or perhaps you just really enjoy writing the step-by-step process of tutorials, then kudos to you.
The Art of Copying
Everything is a reflection of something else. In anthropology, we frequently use the term cultural diffusion. It essentially means that culture spreads, diffuses, changes, and modifies itself as it spreads. The same is true in the online craft universe.
I find it hard to believe that with the millions of creative outlets (blogs, websites, books, products, etc) that any artist or craft blogger could honestly say that have made something totally original-not to mention how impossible this is when we are bombarded by the internet involuntarily. In personal experience, working with Katie on blog projects, we've had projects of ours "stolen" by major names in the craft blogging group who we would have never believed would "plagiarize" from our lesser-known work. And we in turn have certainly been inspired by projects of theirs...But that's hardly the point. The point is not to "invent" and claim a craft "patent" on a project. The point is to diffuse, to spread. Look at companies that produce scrapbooking products. How often have we seen practically the same product being sold from multiple companies? This is not a bad thing; it gives us more choices, more inspiration.
Let's address the fact that most of us are not out to became world-renowned artists. We're blogging because we own and promote a small, online business. Or we blog because we want to reach out to people across the globe because we're uncomfortable promoting our art face-to-face. Or we blog because the opportunities that blogging shares with us cannot be achieved elsewhere. This being said, all of these motivations for blogging and writing craft tutorials are all hinged on the fact that we rely on other people to read and respond. Which in turn means that we must read, see, and respond to other people's works as well.
In fact, let's rename copying "sharing." Because that's what it really is. And we all know it. Now this is not to say that I don't believe in giving credit. It's courteous and makes your own blog more credible when you promote and give credit to those who inspire you.
“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is nonexistent.”
What Inspiration Really Is...
It's beautiful. It's purposeful. It breaks boundaries. It makes connections between bloggers and readers and other bloggers. We need to give up the pressure of spending so much time trying to be "inspired" to create something "original" when the process for this is to look at things that have already been created-it's contradictory. I fail to see how the spreading of creative activity is ever a bad thing. Inspiration is what we all really want (or we wouldn't log so many hours reading other blogs, perusing craft websites, and pinning things!) and we obtain it through the works of others. And when that inspiration translates into craft tutorials on our own blogs, we may in turn inspire someone else. We may teach them something new because they never connected with our primary source of inspiration, yet they connected with us. So let's promote the art of sharing(copying) and inspire more people through our craft tutorials.