Imagine you’re on the highway taking things at your own pace. On your left, you notice one lane seems to be moving faster. Obviously, this intrigues you because who doesn’t want to get to their final destination quicker?
As you merge into that left lane, other cars seem to notice the quickened pace as well. Soon many cars swerve into that lane to get around the slow pokes who are just cruisin’.
It’s chaotic following so many cars at this high speed and next thing you know you miss your exit.
Now you’re on a new path competing with everyone else to get to someone else’s “desired destination” quicker.
Sometimes on your creative path, it’s easy to swerve into someone else’s lane. You see them blowing up quickly so why can’t you jump on the trend too?
I admit I’m guilty of this as I saw someone else’s success as an opportunity to get in the fast lane for similar success.
It got me to the point where I wasn’t creating for me like I had my entire life before social media—back when I would draw ufos, dragons and pizza in my private sketchbook for my eyes only.
When I stopped creating for me, I merged into someone else’s lane and began creating for the masses because people seemed to like that style they produced.
Sadly, it wasn’t just me as a lot of other people with the same idea swerved into that lane too and it just created noise.
Looking back on it now, it was a necessary learning curve. The experimentation of imitating and regurgitating other people’s work was helping me find my own style, process and voice.
While I still get inspired by others work and experiment with my own twist at times, I’m not following the tire marks they created.
I’m also not trying to create to please the masses.
I’m staying within my own lane and creating for me at my own pace.
What do I mean by staying in your own lane?
Staying in your own lane means creating work that you think is dope and that you’re enthusiastic about.
It means injecting your own DNA, heart and soul into your work that no one else can replicate. Anyone can bite your style, but no one can duplicate these.
It means not merging into someone else’s lane because it seems like the faster path to your desired end goal.
Everyone’s path is different and trailing someone else’s tire marks won’t get you the same results.
By staying in your own lane over the years, you’ll begin to develop your own voice and range of style.
When I think of creatives who stay in their own lane, I think of those who:
Some talented artists who come to mind first are:
While they never create in one distinct repetitive style, I can still pick their work out of a sea of noise on social media.
That’s what we should all strive for.
While the faster lane may tempt us, it doesn’t always lead to the destination we want.
Stay in your own lane and create for you.
You’ll find over time that you’ll attract the right people around your work, voice and style.
These are the people that will happily enjoy the ride with you.