I've had the honor of coaching and connecting with some amazing women in my Big Magic groups these past few months, snd a common theme I noticed is this:
We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be "original."
The shame associated with "copying" the work of others lingers with us from grade school, scaring us away from even considering jumping off from an existing idea.
Somewhere deep in our psyches, a false belief has been planted:
You must re-invent the wheel. Every time. Or else...you suck.
And this keeps us from even beginning a new creation, a new idea, or a new angle for our business.
But listen. I'm here to tell you it's OKAY to use pre-existing ideas, structures, and concepts for inspiration. It's okay to borrow and blend.
As a graphic designer, I'm trained to follow templates. And I've had great success (and saved a LOT of time) using them.
A template can box you in,
OR it can or provide a structure from which you break free.
It's all in how you look at it.
Templates can be a starting point for you to find your own unique spin. They can be blended to create your own unique recipe.
For example, I use a template when coaching my clients to write their marketing stories. It's called the Story Arc, and it's a universal storytelling device that works really well as a jumping off point.
Why would I want to reinvent that?
Instead, I work with my clients to add their spin and their voice to the mix, and the result is a story that's uniquely and powerfully theirs.
Elizabeth Gilbert writes about originality vs. authenticity in Big Magic:
“The older I get, the less impressed I become with originality. These days, I’m far more moved by authenticity. Attempts at originality can often feel forced and precious, but authenticity has quiet resonance that never fails to stir me.”
It's true. The pressure to be “original” will stop you in your tracks. Aim for authentic instead.
Authenticity gives you permission to borrow, blend, and benefit from what’s already out there. And remember, it’s okay to use templates as starting points. From there, you get to add your own spin, in your own voice.
The result? Something that’s uniquely YOU!
Think about this as you approach your marketing and brand storytelling.
Need help getting started with your brand story arc? I’m just a click away!
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Did this article spark anything for you? I'd love to hear what you're going to borrow or blend for your next project!
Author and Branding Consultant
I am passionate about helping mission-centered business owners share their message through compelling written and visual content.
My memoir, What I Gave to the Fire, is available in both print and Kindle formats on Amazon.com.