Is it original?

Via The Great Shows

Coming up with original content can be hard. Is this original? How do you come up with original content?

I heard an anecdote about this relating to The Flintstones. A TV station in the US used to have a 1PM slot for movies that ran for 2 hours every weekday afternoon. Mostly old black and white films that, even with all the commercials, often ran shy of the time block allotted.

To fill extra time they would often show re-runs of The Flintstones. The TV series is pretty old now. Even at the time of this anecdote The Flintstones had been on air almost a decade. One viewer expressed her frustration at this. The manager calmly explained that, in addition to lots of kids enjoying the show, you have to keep in mind that, believe it or not, the show is still new to someone who’s never seen it. To someone who’s not you.

And, then, he said something which has stuck with me ever since I heard it. “Every day, somebody is born who’s never seen The Flintstones”.

No matter what you create there is likely always someone who has seen it before and you’re not teaching them anything new. And every day there’s someone new who hasn’t and would like to hear what you have to say.

Let’s use something IT related as an example. I’m a nerd so software is something I know even if there’s always more stuff to learn. The majority of software you find is usually well documented. Yet people struggle.

If you post a question online you might hear some people respond with RTFM. I won’t tell you what the F stands for but it basically means “read the manual”.

There’s usually countless tutorials and guides on things for a reason, because the way it’s explained is different to all the other people who tried to explain it before. That’s one reason there’s so many diets. That’s how you create value.

Another thing I’m interested in is design. While learning some design principles I heard a designer Paul Rand say: “don’t try to be original, just try to be good.” So original or not, you learn to create good content by first creating a lot of bad content.

Henry David Thoreau is quoted as saying “not that the story need be long, but it will take a long while to make it short”. Brevity is a skill so there’s always value to being able to explain something in different terms or more more succinctly.

Quality comes from developing a lot of content, so I would conclude that the way to be original is to learn to create a lot of good content. You do this by first creating a lot of bad content then crafting it to be good.

I will conclude that the way to be original is to learn to create a lot of good content.

Keep on creating.

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