How to get inspiration from others without copying their creation.

What makes anything we do original? Us. We are original. We are unique. We bring a unique set of circumstances, skills, experiences, gifts, and talents to everything we do. In essence what we do can’t be copied. At least the heart of it can’t. The meaning behind it can’t be imitated.

Part of the beauty of creating is what is does to us and no one can take that away from us. When I set out to create I am expressing something inside of me. I am giving a part of myself to the world. I am growing and learning and becoming one with my creation and nothing you can do can change that. There is a big amount of courage that is needed to do the thing in the first place. Once we gain that courage we try the thing we want to do. At some point we put it out there. An Instagram post, a Facebook update, a tweet, an announcement, a conversation. We put ourselves out there to be ridiculed and spit upon. We birth our true love and let others trample on it.

“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear”

Mark Twain

Yet the daily drags us down. The dishes, bills, repairs, car, schedule, work, office, room, meeting, trash, dumpster, cook, clean, errands, sports, books, homework, volunteer, support, pick up, call, check in on, prepare, and the take care of’s in life that are on automatic re-run. They turn on each morning like an old t.v. with the white fuzz glaring at you. That fizzy sound is on because someone forgot to turn the t.v. off. Back when channels actually turned off at night. The pre-infomercial days. You wake up and the fizzy is already happening. Fzzzzzzz….bright, grey, annoying. Another day of the same. Another day of nothing. Oh no way it’s not nothing. It’s my life. I am living the dream. The window of inspiration is gone.

“Once I knew only darkness and stillness…my life was without past or future…but a little word from the fingers of another fell into my hand that clutched at emptiness, and my heart leaped to the rapture of living”

Helen Keller

A type of daily darkness can surround us. A deep darkness can ascend when the waves of tragedy hit us. We lose hope. We lose sight of what is important to us. We may rise to the occasion and seek to create. Seek to display our beauty to the world, but inspiration alludes us. We look around at the carpet that needs cleaned, hear our to-do list clamor after our attention, and watch as those around us mock what we love. We get an idea. What if I try to do this like them? It’s out of pure desperation. We are grasping for air. Seeking enlightenment and trying to find something that shows us how to do this thing. We look at anothers creation and think let me try that.

“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”

Charles Caleb Colton

We look to others for inspiration and if we are not careful we will imitate their work. We will draw their lines, write their words, and steal their image. It is a form of flattery, but it is a form of theft. Stealing that which is not ours. Someone’s ideas, soul, heart, motivation, and vision. Edgar Allan Poe believes that “art is the reproduction of what the senses perceive in nature through the veil of the soul”. Poe believes that “mere imitation, however accurate, of what is in nature, entitles no man to the sacred name of artist”. So how can we look to others for inspiration, but not imitate them.

We can learn. We can study their lives and learn how they got to where they are and determine if there are steps that we can take, like theirs, that will help us achieve our goals.

We can learn. We can learn from their craft and pick up techniques. We can turn away from their design and turn to our blank canvas. What we remember can come with us. We can transition our knowledge into skill.

We can learn. This is the way others do things. This is a way to live your life, start a business, build an Instagram account, write, read, paint, start, stop, live, and die. We can learn how others do things and then we can ask ourselves how this applies to our lives. Perhaps we do want to paint our lives like they painted theirs, but to avoid imitating we must pour ourselves into our work. We must create in a room where we are alone and having nothing to rely on, but ourselves.

“No art is less spontaneous than mine. What I do is the result of reflection and the study of the great masters”

Edgar Degas

Seek out inspiration from the masters and reflect on what they do. See what is possible and let them motivate you to create amazing things. It will be in the stillness of your mind, in the solitude of your room that you will pour what you have learned into your original creation. It is there that you will convey your soul and it is there you will develop what you want the world to see.

When we were in school we studied and learned from our teachers. On test day we sat alone at our desk and tackled the questions by ourselves. The time of imitation was over and the time to create had arrived. Our efforts were graded and we discovered where we were lacking. Creation is no different. Go to school and learn from the great masters of your craft. Sit at your desk and pour into your blank canvas all that you are and all that you have learned and let the world decide what it wants to do with what you have created. Move on to your next creation and move onto conquering all the noisy white fuzz.

Marcy Pedersen

Originally published at on October 5, 2018.



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Marcy Pedersen, MBA

Marcy Pedersen, MBA

Writer, analyst, life-long learner, and obsessed about improving life and work processes. Connect at