Copy THEN Experiment With What You’ve Swiped…

Trey Parker

“You can't make experimental work by copying past work.” – Trey Parker, Born Oct. 19, 1969.

This is probably a lesson better suited to “advanced” practitioners of the persuasive arts, but it may well be useful to the intrepid beginner among the readers of these words.

It's becoming increasingly important to find and publish as a unique “voice”. This “package” or “container” for your information is the main differentiator between you and a million other sources online for the exact same information.


And consumers today absorb and soak up so much info and flavor and branding that in order to stand out, you can't be exactly like anything else that has been done before.

The good news is, this isn't as hard as you might think.

Originality is misunderstood – you don't have to be the first of a type, or completely unique. You can be the first, unique COMBINATION of certain things, and that can work well enough.

But you CANNOT do ANYTHING interesting by COPYING what came before.

If you copy what came before, the best you can hope for is diminishing returns. Because once it's been done the first time, it won't ever be that good against except by a quirk of fate.

So it IS true that one can find a good deal of success in imitation, but that success is limited. It's finite. It has a maximum level and saturation point that already started before you showed up. All you can do by imitating is hasten people's disgust with it.

The way to escape that fate is experimentation.

Do something new, while JUMPING OFF of what came before. Take what has worked, but rather than copying, EMULATE and TRANSFORM it. Make it your own.

Be David Blaine, mumbling his way through 100 year old tricks on the street with a camera crew and make it feel new.

Be Katy Perry and Lady Gaga, taking different shreds of Madonna in different directions and territory, feeling completely different.

I guess what I am saying is that Parker is wrong in this quote.

Originality is required, but the most efficient way to create something original is to copy, but twist. Experiment on what was already successful, without copying it exactly.

The same way that his “South Park” built on the cartoons it parodied, and the comedy it emulated, and created a unique combination.

Make it interesting, but familiar. Just don't be boring.

Especially not in the comments you leave me about this…

3 thoughts on “Copy THEN Experiment With What You’ve Swiped…”

  1. Love all the content and stating what sometimes we need to hear from a new voice! Great stuff. Thanks for putting these thoughts in writing!!!

  2. You've helped me the most with this stuff BY FAR!

    Funny, it was your Mastery training, the first one I ever took from you that sucked me in and gave me all sorts of permission or validation (or some shit) I was looking for to be able to start "trying."

    If I'm not mistaken, based on the lower price tag you've re-released this one a few times it seems it's not your most popular training?

    Nevertheless, it's one of my faves.

    This one is def a powerful reminder… to be original isn't hard as it seems, especially if you've got a lot of cross innovation going on. Even easier if you do this with works from different fields.

    As always, thanks for everything.

    Hope this wasn't too boring, lol.

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