“There is nothing new under the sun” is a phrase that kept me writing regularly a couple of years ago.
The phrase means that everything that exists or has existed has already been seen or done. It suggests that there is a limited amount of originality or novelty in the world, and that people and events are simply variations on themes that have occurred throughout history.
As I am picking up again my writing habit, this phrase will once again serve as my reminder.
Back then when I studied in France, there was a guy we usually called as Kay (not his real name). His personal brand was Germany, bees, and alcohol.
- Germany because he studied for years in Germany.
- Bees because his doctorate thesis was about how bees reacted under various stimuli.
- Alcohol because any type of invitation from him to meet-up revolved around getting drunk.
“Come to my apartment! Help me finish this bottle of whiskey!”
“Let’s get that sober guy drunk with vodka and dig up his secrets!”
Another friend who hung out more often with him had expressed his confusion about Kay’s life. The reason being, he didn’t seem to have any clear objectives or trajectories. I proved it myself when I asked:
“What are you going to do after finishing your doctorate program? Any plans?”
“I’ll buy a big motorcycle and travel around Germany.”
I regretted asking.
To our surprise, after I completed my studies, Kay began a serious relationship with a newcomer. Let’s call her Dee. What made us even more amazed — knowing his behavior — was that Kay made a leap of faith to commit.
He and Dee got engaged in 2017.
But, it wouldn’t be Kay if everything was normal. On the day of their proposal, for some reason, Dee was in our home country while Kay was in Germany. The proposal was carried out via online streaming.
Three years after the online proposal the pandemic hit. Proposals and marriages via online streaming went viral in social medias. I thought:
“Wow! This was just like something Kay has done years ago!”
When writing or telling a story about something, I sometimes hesitate.
Isn’t this not something new?
Isn’t this something that’s obvious?
Isn’t this something that everyone knows?
I then tried too hard or sometimes stopped trying.
One day, when I was reading some articles in Medium, I stumbled upon this paragraph:
“There is nothing new under the sun. Whatever you say will have already been said. The point of telling stories isn’t to have the first original idea in the history of mankind. It’s for the way you tell them to resonate with the readers of your time. If you’re lucky, by the time they’re done reading, they’ll feel slightly different than before.”
This made me realize that it’s not always necessary to have new or original ideas, but it’s important to present the topic in a unique and different way, and that’s what makes the story interesting to the reader.
Look at what Kay did years ago.
Because I knew about Kay’s proposal, seeing people commit to each other via online streaming was not new to me. While for many other people, it was something new. It even went viral.
Not everyone knows what we already know and vice versa. Searching for something that is truly original is futile. That’s a fool’s errand. Such thoughts will only prevent you from writing. The important thing is to find a unique angle or perspective to present the topic, even if it has been discussed before.
Furthermore, from any perspective, what we write will always give incentive to the reader. How is it possible?
If the reader does not know about the topic, he or she will most probably gain new knowledge.
If the reader already knows about what we write, there are several possibilities:
- We validate or remind them about what they already know.
- Our story from our perspective can give the reader a new perspective or meaning — like my case, where I found the meaning of the phrase “nothing new under the sun” to not be afraid to tell a story.
- If the above two points do not apply, the reader will get an incentive in the form of satisfaction if he or she is a knowledgeable and smart person — “Yeah, something like this is what I already know. Yeah, this trash is something I can write too. I am special!”
It’s also important to remember that not everyone has the same knowledge or perspective as you do, and what may be familiar to you may be new or interesting to someone else. So, it’s always good to remember that writing is not only about imparting new knowledge to the reader but also validating, reminding and giving new perspective or meaning to the readers.
We never know, what impact we might have given to our readers. Alors, keep writing, keep telling your stories!