Have you ever read something you wrote or viewed something you created – be it a blog post, a painting, landscaping, or anything that was meant to be creative – then realized it’s more typical than unique?
You followed a proven formula. So your creation should be attracting attention. But it’s not. It’s part of the collective.
It is time to become an individual, to stand out and be noticed.
You’ve driven through suburbs where house after house look identical. Each house may be different inside with unique individuals and families, but you wouldn’t know anything about them from just driving down the street.
But when you come across the one house that looks different, you notice it. It’s not extravagant or covered with flashing lights. It’s just, well, different, and in the suburbs that makes it stand out.
The different house got your attention and if you had to choose houses to visit it would likely be at the top of your list.
The same thing happens when we create art without following any specific formula.
Let’s say you’re a blogger writing, well, blog posts.
Your words may be unique and your message special, but to the casual reader who has read article after article in the same tired format they all start to blend together and it becomes hard to recognize one author from another.
The problem is too many bloggers have become trapped by the typical directions out there on how to write and present a blog post.
Use lists, use bullets and create magnetic headlines.
Everyone else is doing it, and that’s the problem.
They have been assimilated.
It’s no surprise so few bloggers actually set themselves apart.
Every now and then the content is so exceptional that an author will stand out. But that’s the exception, not the rule.
How many times have you picked up a magazine in a waiting room, read a few articles and then put it back on the table when your name was called without a second thought as to who wrote the articles?
Each article is part of the collective.
Magazines, newspapers and other publications have done this for decades and they do it on purpose.
It’s because they want the reader to focus on the publication.
The advent of Blogs helped writers break free, gave them a way to allow their creativity to flow uninhibited and they began to set themselves apart.
And yet, slowly but surely most are becoming assimilated into a new mold.
Great blog writers do not stand out only because of what they write.
They stand out because their presentation and overall style is special and unique.
Consider Seth Godin, who many say is the words greatest blogger. Clearly, his name is one of the most well known.
Which formula does he follow?
If you’re familiar with Seth you probably know the answer.
Seth writes his ideas and doesn’t appear to follow any specific formula. Most people would simply say he is concise.
His words are meaningful, but he has a seemingly total disregard for doing it the ‘proven’ way and that sets him far apart from the collective.
One day Seth will write a blog post 500 words long and the next day he might post one that is merely two sentences. He only uses bullets and lists when absolutely necessary for his content. His headlines are hardly considered social media bait and really, they don’t need to be.
Seth is clearly an individual. His name, who he is and what he is about matters more than any formula.
Resistance is not futile
If you want to break free and stand out as a unique creative person, sooner or later you’re going to need to allow your own style to develop and shine.
That’s the only way to create an instantly recognizable name for yourself.
Formulas are great as guidelines to get started, but don’t become reliant on them.
When you get the urge to present your work differently, do it. Put a ding in the universe.
Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.
-Steve Jobs (Tweet This Quote)
Bet on it.
Steve could have made Apple to be just like Microsoft, after all MS was setting the “standard” and he had tremendous pressure from those who “knew better” to do so.
So many companies followed Microsoft’s lead. But Apple didn’t and now you have iphones, ipods and ipads and more, and the memory of an innovator who will never be forgotten.
The bottom line is you will never set yourself apart if your doing what everyone else is doing, the way everyone else is doing it.
But whatever you do, don’t be fooled into thinking it is only about the content.
What you’ve got to say may be meaningful and brilliant (it is), but if you’re presenting it in the same way as everyone else, then you’re setting yourself up to be just another blog writer.
You know the writer I am talking about.
The one using great lists and bullets, with mind-blowing headlines such as:
How to Make a Boat out of Silk and 7 Ways to Fly a Kite Upside Down.
Yep. That one. You know who I am talking about… don’t you?
Perhaps not, because he or she could be anyone since so many are doing the exact same thing.
They are only filling in the blanks. They’ve become assimilated.
You’re better than that. You know it and I know it.
So stop blending.
Put true magic (your magic) into your creativity by being the remarkable, special and unique individual that you are.
Don’t just create something that matters, create it and present it in a way no one else would. The way you would.
How are you setting yourself apart? Share in the comments.