Don’t try to be God, try to be Shakespeare

Here’s a quote from Twyla Tharp’s book The Creative Habit.

Honey, it’s all been done before. Nothing’s really original. Not Homer or Shakespeare and certainly not you. Get over yourself.

Trying to be completely original is paralyzing, and not even possible. Only God creates ex nihilo. Everyone else starts with something. Don’t try to be God. Try to be Homer or Shakespeare.

Related post: Three quotes on originality

Posted in Creativity, Uncategorized
9 comments on “Don’t try to be God, try to be Shakespeare
  1. Great quote.

    I agree. See one of my blog posts on this topic:

    We never invent anything new, yet progress is made!
    http://www.daniel-lemire.com/blog/archives/2008/12/27/we-never-invent-anything-new-yet-progress-is-made/

  2. Corwin Joy says:

    Not a very original quote. Haven’t I seen that somewhere before?

  3. Gene says:

    I think it would be more fun to be Geoff Chaucer than Shakespeare, perhaps? At least my dim memory of Canterbury Tales and Everyman make me think it is so.

  4. John Venier says:

    John — You made a couple of typos. “Homer or Shakespeare” should read “Homer Simpson”. You’re welcome!

    Corwin — You’re just jealous that you didn’t create it ex nihilo first.

    Gene — I never read much Chaucer, but I heard some rumors about the Miller’s Tale. Certainly colorful if true!

  5. Reza says:

    And, how different we can be from “Shakespeare”? I think that this is the problem, as I have myself. Not to be God, it is unreliable.

  6. Good advice. I often find myself paralyzed by the fact that everything I want to write has already been written in one form or another.

    On the debate between Chaucer and Shakespeare, I would comfortably settle for being a Mark Twain.

  7. John Venier says:

    Bill,

    Mark Twain is good sounding. Deep enough, but not unfathomable.

  8. John says:

    Thanks. I fixed the typo.

  9. Phil H says:

    Bill the Lizard said: “Good advice. I often find myself paralyzed by the fact that everything I want to write has already been written in one form or another.”

    The point of art is not to say some new, profound thing. No, art is self-expression, so the purpose of your art is to express *you*. So stop trying to make a great thing, only make something that tells your story from your perspective.

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