Repetition within creativity? How come? Shouldn’t creativity be about something new and innovative? Yes, it should be. But let me explain what I mean by repetition. It’s nothing more than a technique one can use on a creative work, be that something related to creative writing, song writing, editing, drawing or any other creative manifestation.
It’s not about copying someone’s work, or just doing something that has already been done with no originality or innovation whatsoever. Repetition comes to creativity in many of its forms. Not as to copy another work, but to repeat values, information or patterns within a creative artwork, be that a novel, a cartoon or a painting. The idea is to make some sense by repeating these patterns, as well as by breaking them. You can imagine how cubist painters used shapes and forms to visualize a repetition technique, or think about how rhymes work within a poem, to understand it verbally. They tend to expand their significance to something bigger than the value every element alone has within the artwork. They work as a group, have a reason to stay together as they are.
But repetition can be tricky; if it’s not properly used, it may seem like the creator doesn’t have many technical abilities regarding his field of knowledge and is just filling in the gaps of his empty workstation. This can be clearly seen at the work of an unexperienced writer, when he, exercising his creative writing, constantly keeps referring to a character by his name, rather than, for instance, making an analogy with one of his traits. Of course, if you’re writing a poem and your beloved name is Lenore, this might be seen as a good idea. Just be aware of what you’re doing and how you can use or manipulate some technical rules – such as recurring patterns – within your creative work. It is one thing to use this tool in your writing in order to create a meaning within the text, and it’s another to repeat words for lack of expertise in your text. Creativity is not about that!
And it’s everywhere. If you analyze most of the pop songs in the whole world, you can find a few different patterns on their structure. One of the most popular is the ABABCB structure. You have a main part of the song, then the chorus. A second part, slightly different from the first, followed by the chorus again. A break – a new part of the song, maybe changing the tone, a dialogue with the first and the second part, a guitar solo - then, finally, a closure with the chorus, twice and fading out. This pattern became so spread, so popular, that people now tend to expect it. Also, if you think about something as complex as jazz improvisation in the music field, you can see that in order to musicians to feel free to play what they feel, one of them is bound to hold up a pattern to set up the ground for the improv to dance!
It comes up in many fields of art. In stand-up comedy, for instance, you have a common concept used by many comedians while preparing their artwork. It’s called callback. A callback happens when you link different parts of your show that are apart from each other in a timeline. You refer to something that was already said, and, with the context of the joke you’re telling at the moment, you create another meaning for the same line.
Photography, painting, acting; all these artistic manifestations have a room for the repetition technique, without harming what creativity is. Try thinking about groups of information, patterns, other meaningful things you want to express with your creative work. A motto you wanna shout, a message you need to tell, anything. Consider this technique during your creative process, even if to deny it. It’s just a point of view that might be interesting and helpful to develop a new idea. Or maybe it’s just gibberish…