on repeat

When I was younger, my little sister discovered an inhumane form of torture. Two actually. They were both albums on CD. One was the first Aqua album, featuring the "Barbie Girl" song. The other was the first Spice Girls album, featuring, well, I'm sure you've heard them at some point. She listened to them both unceasingly. I nearly went insane, or maybe I did and I just don’t know it yet …
Red hen, pink hen, 49 out!
Huh, who said that? 

Alright, so repetitive things tend to drive me a little batty. Let me say that again. No, wait, I won’t: to do so would only add further madness.

I usually don’t like hearing the same songs over and over or watching the same movie without a long break in between each viewing. There are exceptions, but very few.

It strikes me that repetition and creativity are an odd couple, but they are a couple. Notes repeat to make great music, patterns couldn’t exist without repetition. On the flip side, repetition dulls creativity. The more something is repeated, the less creative it becomes. Things fresh and creative today become old and stale tomorrow (like that bread I left out, but hey, it’s how French toast got invented and man is that stuff delicious). To repeat something is to make it normal, to lessen its creative appeal (or did I say that already?)

I recall the chant of the Hipster, “I liked it first, before it was cool.” Truly they seek the cutting edge of creativity in all aspects (pulls tongue out of cheek).

So yeah, creativity requires a fresh approach but it also has strong roots in repetition. What’s more, our own creative development is dependent on repeated attempts (and failures) before we can arrive at some measure of success. Truth be told (and I do try to tell it), repetition is one of the main ingredients for creative momentum.

Momentum comes from simple, repeated, continual effort over regular intervals of time.

But where is the balance between a life of endless repetition and one of newness? That’s a toughie. Perhaps it comes when we find the things which matter most, which are worth repeating. Some things take on a newness of their own the more familiar we become with them. We should also work on discovering new ways to do the same things.

The sun comes up and goes down every day (for most of us, sorry Alaska) but I still find it beautiful and moving each time.

I'll admit, not all repetition is bad; in fact, repetition can add meaning to a thing, put emotional cement around it. My first paid job was doing janitorial work and landscaping for an elementary school district over the summer. My best friend's dad (who landed us the gig) would drive the three of us to work every day in his pickup truck, bouncing over beat-up dirt roads while playing Garth Brook's "Shameless". That song was his morning ritual and, for reasons far beyond me, it held untold significance to him. Maybe we all need a little bit of shameless repetition, just to keep ourselves centered.

So find that favorite song you’ll never grow tired of, pump up the jam and put a new spin on your old ways. Really though, who thought Scary Spice was a good stage name? Honestly.

 

Creatively yours,
A.P. Lambert

 

Hey Creatives, do you enjoy repetition or find it monotonous? Let us know in the comments below.

A.P. Lambert

A.P. Lambert is a creative professional who helps others live with creativity and purpose.