So I’ve been thinking a little about my approach to… things. Photography – well, that’s where it started, but now I’m thinking more broadly.
Yesterday, I had the day off. It was a sunny day – warm, blue sky, still, so pretty much the opposite of every day before it since I started this whole blogging thing. I decided to set out with my camera – build up some photos for those days when I just can’t get out to take ‘new’ pictures, but still within the rules (or probably more guidelines or boundaries really) that I’ve set out for myself (a quick reminder in case you’ve forgotten – fair enough, you’re a very busy Internet – prime lenses only, and the image must evoke something rather than simply portray a scene, and I know that second one is very vague and broad and I like it like that thank you very much) for this task. So what did I do? I consulted my list. Yes, that’s right… you are about to learn something about me. I am a planner. I keep a list of possible photo locations just for this task. Don’t believe me? Here it is! It means I can just go to my little list, pick something, and then tick it off. Why do I do this? No idea. It’s not like I ever go to take photos and then just sit there in the car without moving. But, I do it. And follow it.
Yesterday, I decided to try to tick off the ‘Devonport lighthouse (bluff)’ item from the list. Oh, and the Emu Valley Rhodo Garden one as well. Like I say, I was determined to get out there and build the collection.
The thing was, I went to both of those places, and indeed, I took photos. Quite a few, as far as Emu Valley goes. But I was left feeling… numb. I wasn’t really inspired at all. I was going through the motions of being in an inspiring location, taking lovely photos, … blah. And the photos? Well, they’re… okay. I guess.
But then a funny thing happened (still counting those cliches? Good. But don’t tell me – that would be rude.) – on the way home in the evening, I decided to take a detour, head along a different road. And along that road, I found the best photo spot – a run-down old barn, with flowers in front, and a solitary calla lily growing in front of the decaying wooden planks. Magic! A flurry of photos later, I actually felt excited about getting home to check them out in Lightroom. (Still working on processing them, so no spoilers here!) And do you know what? That’s how it should be – otherwise why am I even taking photos in the first place?
So that had me thinking about lists, and plans, and how they might shape or even constrain my work. On the one hand, it means I’ve always got somewhere to go – no sitting in the car trying to figure that out! And it’s… safe. I know that these are good locations, so I can go there and something… okay… will result. They might not be the best shots in the world, but they’ll do. Will they? Because it also means that I’m not really… responding. I’m not looking at what’s there in front of me, the picture that is there to be made. And maybe if I don’t have the list or the plan, maybe I might be more open to that inspiration. I’m going to try it. We’ll see where it takes me. Maybe some days there won’t be an awesome decaying barn complete with lone radiant flower to be found. And maybe that’s okay too.
And then – here’s the really interesting part. I started thinking about my writing, too. In my writing, I also plan. To sometimes ridiculous lengths! I will figure out what sections I need, how many words for each, what will go in the introduction, and so on. Then, it’s just a case of filling in the blanks (just like colouring in, but with words!!). But am I doing the literary equivalent of ticking off my list, without actually seeing what’s there in front of me? And in the process, am I choosing mediocrity (which doesn’t mean terrible – look it up) over… um… what’s a word for this… potentiality? (Did I make that up?) What I’m getting at, it maybe I need to stop trying to play it safe – figuring out beforehand what I might say. That means I’m also figuring out beforehand what I might learn from the process of writing, or indeed even discounting the possibility that I might learn from the writing. So I’m going to try something this week… I’m going to try writing without planning first. Oh sure, I’ll work to a general idea, but no… sections. No word counts. Let’s see what happens.
PS: I actually also keep a list of topics for this part of the blog (not sharing that one though). This topic wasn’t on that list. And I didn’t plan this response – I just started writing. Did it work? That’s not the point… I’m trying to take my own advice here!!!