Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach

Get Off Your High Horse

It’s easy to spot an amateur writer. He’ll either clack away at a keyboard and produce an unpalatable word salad. Or stare for hours at a blank page because he doesn’t know what to say.

Both types of amateur suffer from the same problem: an overinflated ego. Only a fool thinks his first independent attempt will be anything else than horseshit.

Which is why all the greats stole. Although some would say, “Got influenced by.”

Einstein didn’t discover the theory of relativity by himself. He simply continued where his colleagues left off. First, James Clerk Maxwell suggested that light might be an electromagnetic wave. Then Hendrik Lorentz and Henri Poincaré did the equations that backed up Maxwell’s theory. Using Einstein’s own words, “[…] the special theory of relativity […] was ripe for discovery in 1905.”

Alexander Graham Bell didn’t invent the telephone, he was simply the first to get his name on the patent.

Mark Zuckerberg didn’t dream up Facebook by himself, he created the social network platform together with three friends who he swindled. Although the plan was to create a networking site together, Zuckerberg started on his own. And later settled a lawsuit with his ‘co-founders’ for 1,2 million shares—which was then worth $300 million.

William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet was heavily ‘inspired’ by Arthur Brooke’s poem, The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet. In fact, much of Shakespeare’s work was a modern retelling of an old story.

Which is similar to how Walt Disney’s created his cartoons. Alice in Wonderland, Cinderella, Snow White, Pinocchio, The Little Mermaid, and Beauty and the Beast are all updated versions of classic fairy tales. More than anything, Disney was a remix artist.

As you can see, everything is up for grabs. 

Although I recommend you don’t grab everything. Only take what appeals to you. 

Found an artist whose work you love? Study that person’s entire body of work and remix it as best you can.

Not only will this new work carry your own stamp, but someone may actually like it.

If you try to create something original and likeable as a beginner, you’ll never get off the ground. It’s like trying to fly a rocketship without having any lessons. It can’t be done.

Even the best craftsmen are so-so at being original. Rarely will you be the next Michelangelo or Picasso.

But just like Shakespeare and Disney, you can modernise the old by adding some new.

So get off your high horse and start remixing. You’re not good enough to be original.

By Jeroen Elsing
Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach