This is a syndicated post by Haroon Dean who publishes short musings at Curioso. You can find the original post here, and you can find him at Twitter.

The best creators that I know hardly ever start from scratch. Everything they do is part of an iterative continuum. I've reflected on what the difference between myself and them might be, and it comes down to them being slightly better at documenting what they do.

All of us are working on an iterative continuum. We’re all repeating some tasks that we’ve done yesterday, perhaps we do them at a weekly, monthly, or annual cadence. Sometimes we start on something new and we work on it for a short period of time. All of this is part of an iterative continuum. What are the series of actions that make up your life? That is an iterative continuum.

Now iteration can be defined as the next version or step in a linear line of progression. Sometimes when we are working on something, we work on projects that start off really hot and then fizzle out over time. Are they considered a part of the iterative continuum? Absolutely!

Even if actions are not directly related, they make up a part of the continuum. Efficient and strong creators tend to find a way to leverage the iterative continuum by categorizing their experience into reusable tools or heuristics.

A good example of this is let’s say in web development. You work on a web app that is a yelp clone. Sure, the project may have not succeeded, but woah! You have an entire library of components that you can extract and reuse in another project. Seasoned creators do not start from scratch.

If that example is too specific, imagine being in the ocean and each action you take adds a bit of force to a current. Sometimes the force is small and sometimes you make waves, but you have no idea how all of these forces combine as waves approach the shore.

So how do you build tools for your creative work when you’re just starting? You copy. You look at something you like, and you try to copy it. In the act of copying you are flexing the muscles needed to be able to create things on your own because you are creating proof points for yourself in the future. In engineering, this could look like building out a project in bootstrap. The next time you start a website, versus starting from scratch, you can import code from other projects, make a few changes, and launch. Obviously give credit where it’s due, but quit starting from scratch.