Wanna become uncopyable? Start copying

Rachael Cumberland-Dodd
4 min readOct 27, 2022
Me & my chums in The Swallows; kitschy garage girl rock

I reckon this is how all great art starts.

A drunk conversation, the seed of an idea, some up-for-it friends, a dingy practice room, and stumbling through other people’s songs.

This is me in The Swallows☝🏽

The girl garage band I put together in 2003 cos I was cheesed off with all the cock rock (AKA the dudes in their dude bands, playing 20 min solos with their legs splayed. Yawn)

I wanted to create something fresh, something fun, something to make people dance and sing with abandon. Something other girls would dig.

But I didn’t know how.

So, we started off playing other people’s songs; The Ting Tings, The Pixies, PJ Harvey. We had no discernable sound or style of our own, I sounded like an amalgam of the singers we covered, I intoned as they did, took a breath when they did, even copied their moves.

But months on, and several gigs later The Swallows started to get a lil more confident, we got more experimental, we’d loop in sections, mash-up songs, and eventually, we’d write our own songs and record an EP.

The copycats become a one-of-a-kind act

My friends, today’s lesson is that great art, great writing, great ideas, and great thinking start with copying.

If you’re a coach, consultant, writer, or teacher struggling to create content for fear that it’s all been said before, you don’t have any original ideas, or you’re just copying other people's words.

This truth bomb is for you 👇🏽

To become uncopyable you start by copying.

Think about it.

Everything you know how to do now — walk, teach, use a knife and fork, behave in polite society, you learned from others.

You mimicked, you watched, you absorbed and copied others more experienced than you.

And this is the truth about the creative process seldom shared; mimicking those we admire is the first creative act.

It doesn’t matter if you’re new to biz, have been in the game a while, and are now upping your content creation habit, or you’re integrating a new approach. We learn by copying from those we admire.

Take this ramble for instance.

The idea I’m sharing ain’t new, it’s from the pen and mind of the amazing Simone Grace Seol, who I imagine cobbled it together from her coaches and mentors.

Her notion that originality is not required in order to be great at anything hit me like a shot of Bourbon.

Consider this, is the value of this essay diminished by not being a wholly original, a never-heard-before thought?

Nope. I don’t reckon.

Cos, like you. I don’t care whether what I’m reading is fresh-from-the-farm thinking or a time-worn idea. All I care about is is this helpful to me and can I take something from it.

This popped into my inbox last week from a client new to content creation.

So I’ve been trying to write… but I find that I’m just regurgitating what I’ve read this morning or what I’m learning right now.
I find myself wondering if I should just let this whole thing go….?

Now, this fab lady is a leadership coach of some 20+ years.
I have read her testimonials and heard tales of client wins, so I know she’s the real deal. Yet, faced with writing what she knows or documenting how she does her ‘thing’, this globe-trotting New Yorker feels vulnerable, fraudulent, and diminished.

My response to her was a mix of I feel your pain, and get over yourself!
(The old fist in the velvet glove approach!)

If we become so preoccupied with being original we stall, second-guess, and stymie our own creativity.
And then what?

There’d be no Swallows, no Rolling Stones, no Picasso — these creators become themselves by first apeing other people’s styles

Being a sponge and picking up others’ ideas is great. it’s what great creators do.
Cos when you share what you’ve learned, play with it, mash it up with other influences — your own and others' — then the uncopyable, undeniable you starts to take shape.

And that is when you become unmistakable….

So if you’re struggling to get past the ‘it’s all been said before’ block, take heed and take heart.

You will innovate, but first, you have to imitate.

Stay creating, stay copying, don’t sweat it x

P.S. I’m pretty shit hot at taking pieces of content and finding the golden nuggets within, so you can share your work wildly! If you can’t see the wood for the trees, and the whole fecking forest is on fire, please reach out to me. (Free) Clarity is just a click away.

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Rachael Cumberland-Dodd

Marketing is Medicine folks. Brand-builder & messaging guide, plus evolving human being. feedmarketing.gg