Looking up to all these great people, whether they be writers, painters, musicians, can ultimately bring great disappointment because in many ways, we will never live up to what they have done. We will likely just fall short of their work.
But that is okay.
In the words of Conan O’Brien, “It is our failure to become our perceived ideal that ultimately defines us and makes us unique.” (quoted from Steal like an Artist, Austin Kleon)
That is a huge statement because a lot of times when I try and learn something from someone I greatly respect, I get very frustrated because I am not able to live up to the standard that they set. And that quote frees me from that obsession. It frees me to try and emulate and then let it be okay to fail.
Because essentially what Conan is saying is that “comedians try to emulate their heroes, fall short, and end up doing their own thing.” (Steal like an Artist, Austin Kleon, 38) And that new thing is better for that person because it is a little more of who they are. This process can be a little bit like a writer or a comedian finding his voice. It takes a lot of falling to learn how to stand on your own.
Your voice was not created to imitate others but to come into its own way of saying things and unique ways of emphasizing it.
So go, copy what you think is awesome, and when it doesn’t look like what they did, rejoice because you may have stumbled upon the best thing to ever happen to you. Even though it may look like a Pinterest fail, do all you can to keep producing great art.