Sometimes when I travel, I find a takeaway, which is a souvenir for my brain. It can enlighten me and inspire a new way of thinking. This time, it included thoughts of creativity, originality, and its risks in a world where selling out is common. That invisible souvenir was even better than the sunglasses I bought!
Lots of ideas floated around in my head after my California trip. I had been inspired by what I had seen and experienced. LA is a place where being different is embraced from fashion trends to lifestyle and everything in between. I really love its creative people. Their energy is contagious!
With stops at The Broad, a contemporary art museum, the art district in Downtown LA, and a conversation with a clothing designer, the five days filled me with all kinds of inspiration.
A famous Warhol in The Broad.
But what was it about art, design, and the freedom of expression and how Californians wear clothing that kept my brain bouncing?
I was trying to reconcile it with what I’ve been seeing online, lately.
While surrounded by duplication, there’s a risk in originality, right?
When perusing Pinterest, I’ve noticed many blog posts that are super similar. Some promise huge increases in stats. Others, on how to make money. The similarities don’t stop at content. Their blogs are almost carbon copies.
Were they really successful or just snake oil salesmen? The straight-up bait-and-switch bloggers won’t get anywhere. What I do know is there are millions of lifestyle bloggers writing the same posts. Many will quit in less than a year when they become frustrated with their results.
Lari Pittman’s mural behind Jeff Koons’ Jim Beam Train at The Broad.
Why should I care?
Like most bloggers, one of my goals is to increase views. I had been tempted to blog a bunch of bullet-pointed travel posts since I have tons of photos. They would do very well on Pinterest, which is becoming a huge traffic generator for bloggers.
After writing one about California, I laughed. I set it aside for a few days and then reread it and laughed again. “No way,” I said out loud to no one. I couldn’t blog it. My brain told me so.
Brain: Don’t do it. Don’t follow the crowd just to blow up on Pinterest.
Me: Why not sellout a little bit for a few extra clicks? This post would totally blow up. (That’s good, BTW. It means my post would soar with lots of views.)
Brain: Because it’s not your brand. Continue being original and creative. Be you!
Me: But being original and me? That is so risky!
Brain: That’s what it’s all about. How do you think the super bloggers became super? By being like everyone else?
Brain: Don’t get me wrong, it’s not bad to want to increase views and followers, but do it in a way where you don’t sell out. You’ve spent almost seven years building an audience. You don’t want to turn them away for more hits. Your goal is to write books while continuing to blog.
Me: I totally get that. So can I write about my travels as long as I make them personal stories?
My Brain: Sure, and don’t forget to include all the dumb stuff you do. Readers love that.
Me: I have tons of material.
Brain: Yeah, I know.
It took almost a week, but I finally wrapped my mind around my souvenir.
If you’re a musician, artist, writer, blogger, or any other creative person who is producing content or a product, make sure to capture a part of you in what you create. Originality is key. Duplicating what’s already popular almost always ends up being a mere shadow of the original. If you’re interested in a popular idea, personalize it somehow. Experiment. Come at it in a new way. Turn it upside down. Put it on your head and wear it for a while. Play with it.
Readers want to be entertained, educated, or inspired. The hardest part is to get them to click. It’s our job to give them something new to think about.
Wondering what to create? Ask yourself these questions:
Who are you? What is your unique perspective or what are you trying to say that’s different from everyone else? Where are you from? What’s your story? What are you afraid of? Why? It’s probably holding you back from your full potential.
Fear is deadly to creativity. Be courageous and unlock your brain. You might be surprised by its crazy ideas!
This is my brain on inspiration:
My brain is super crazy. Ask anyone. Especially when it’s filled with invisible souvenirs!
Do vacations inspire you? Are you creative? Do you go out of your way to avoid fear or do you face them head on?