You're right, it HAS all been done before {and why that has nothing to do with your art}. Three ways to look at this self defeating thought in a new light so you can get back to doing what you love.

One of the most effectively self-defeating things we sometimes do as artists is put on a sad face, sigh, droop our shoulders and say, well, there’s nothing original under the sun, right? It’s all been done before, so what possible point can there be for me to just add to the noise? I’m not even very good! 

Eeyore would be proud. 😉

This downward slumping attitude usually happens when we’ve hit a dry spell, recently experienced a rejection or a painting that went awry, or are just plain stuck. {And more often, I suspect, when the world goes insane.}

Obstacles that rise up to meet us on the artist path tend to have a sticky quality, in that once we give them any attention, it can be very hard to let them go and move on.

And you know what? You’re right.

In one sense, it HAS all been done before. If you have an idea, the chances are extremely high that someone else, {probably many someone elses} has already had it. They’re probably doing it right now, the buggers.

But does that mean you shouldn’t? Of course not.

It’s super annoying, but what usually comes soon after ‘yes it has all been done before’ is ‘but not by you’.

And as much as that’s true, if it were enough, it wouldn’t still be holding anyone back. In my experience, encouragement is excellent and essential, but it’s action that actually makes the changes.

So if this is one of the demons that plagues you from time to time, and holds you back from making your art, I have three ideas for you to mull over.


Change your focus


The thing about the whole ‘it’s all been done before’ argument is that it focuses on originality, as if that were the pinnacle of the purpose of making art. But what if we switched that for authenticity? Another rather overused buzzword, but useful for our purposes here.

What if we adjusted our lens from feeling bummed because we’re not making wildly original work, to the feeling of empowerment that comes when we focus on making our most authentic work? The irony of course is that the originality lies in the authenticity. 😉

Related post: Don’t make it good, make it true

Consider the jigsaw puzzle of the universe


I like the metaphor of universe as jigsaw puzzle, because it shows that every piece is necessary to the whole. It’s so easy to think that we don’t have anything worth contributing, but that’s just an ego trick to keep us small and stop us trying scary things.

Your art, as an extension and expression of you, is a piece of that puzzle, and without it the world would simply not be the same.

We might not ever know how that is true, but look at it this way: how many times have you appreciated or been touched by a piece of art of any kind without knowing why or telling the creator of it?

What we create has impact, whether from the personal experience of the joy of creating and the ripple effect that has in our lives, or whether hundreds or thousands of people see and enjoy or are inspired by it.

Don’t underestimate the impact of what you do simply because you don’t actually know the extent of what that might be.


The necessity of doing what you love


I bang on about this quite a lot, because it’s a cornerstone of something we all want – to live our best, most fulfilled, most loving and most useful life.

We all know what happens when you don’t do {enough of} the things you love – things that restore and nourish you. I consider creating to be right up there with eating and sleeping.

What fills you up is what will overflow out into the world around you, and if that’s art, then the world needs your art as much as it needs you to be fed and rested to offer the best of yourself to everything in your life.

When it comes down to it, whether or not what you want to create, or have just created, has been done before is ultimately irrelevant.

The more important question is, are you really going to let that stop you living a fulfilling and fully expressed life of your own?




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