Sunset over the Trent (© Andy Vickers)
I’ve just spent an hour doing something magical that everyone should try – nothing. I’ve just sat in silence with a cup of tea and watched the sunset without the modern nagging, guilty feeling that I should be doing something else, and without defaulting to the usual time-filler of watching something on TV or idly clicking around on the internet. In that time I let my mind wander, I thought through something that I needed to sort out in my mind, I just didn’t try to guide my thoughts too much.
Decades ago it was said that automation would give people more leisure time and they’d be able to relax more and be happier. Now though even at home we feel we must be doing something; if it’s not cleaning or cooking it’s watching the latest must-watch TV series, or catching up with Facebook or Twitter, or blogging (ahem), even holidays or days out have to be awesome experiences. When you’re not working you should be socializing or partying or at least telling everyone who you’re not with what you’re doing via social media – if TV ads are to be believed.
Creativity and relaxation are enhanced by not having distractions so taking some time out has many benefits. Time is precious and sometimes doing nothing isn’t wasting time, doing something, anything, for the sake of it however, is.
I’m struggling again with productivity, I have too many proto-articles and as such when I sit down to write I get struck with something called Workload Paralysis which is basically the inability to begin because there are too many places to start. I also forget what I could write about as my notes app and notebook have too narrow a window to show me my options, I can’t see everything in one glance – I need an overview, a priority schedule – which is something that technology isn’t brilliant at.
As I can’t find space for a full size whiteboard I’ve bought a white clipboard and some fineline whiteboard pens – onto this clipboard I will write one-liners – article titles that is, not quips. This way I’m hoping to be able to get some inspiration without having to scan through pages of paper or lists of notes on a screen.
This is why I’m still a firm believer in the physical and tangible media in concert with technology rather than as a replacement across the board, just sometimes it’s easier to deal with words on paper, they’re often much quicker to access, handle or process. And in my case having the ideas list on a screen doesn’t just mean I can’t see the forest for the trees, I often can’t even see the tree.
One of the reasons I gave for abandoning this blog in my rallying cry to myself to start again was that I couldn’t say anything that wouldn’t have been said elsewhere so who would be interested? Well, that’s the thing, you could say the same thing about TV shows, magazines, newspapers and even big, mainstream websites.
I’ve just read in Wired about how people have been using new social video streaming services Periscope and Meerkat to stream stuff that seems unusual, their fridge contents are popular, apparently. The article is about how new technologies are enabling people to create and broadcast niche, innovative and compelling content. The thing is that there are lots of people doing this, they generally have a small audience, but there are many of the broadcasters.
The same can be said of any media on the internet. Perhaps it’s because I was brought up with four TV channels and a handful of newspapers, or because I have a natural tendency to dismiss my own creations as worthless (a whole other can of worms) but I’d not realised that not everyone reads the same websites. In the old media magazines (whether they be computer, fashion or football related) would print the same news, tips and articles in their own way and the internet enables us to do the same, we might say the same thing as someone else, but we say it our own way to our own audience. Like with old media different authors have different tones, different voices.
This is the joy of the internet, everyone can have a voice and an audience of their own, without the need to stand in their local park, shouting at the pigeons.
Writing (Photo credit: jjpacres)
I still make excuses for not writing posts on this blog. Too tired, can’t think of what to say. It’ll take too long to write, I’ll do it later.
I’ve found though that there is a problem deeper than that. It’s a common feeling that you don’t deserve to be doing whatever you’re trying to do whether it be writing blogs, books, photography, graphic design, music or making hats. It’s a kind of outsider thinking – that because you didn’t go to college or university to learn it, because you’re not a professional then you’re just playing, that you’re not part of the group, you’re not a writer or photographer. It doesn’t matter how many people say that what you do is good the feeling that you shouldn’t be doing it persists, particularly when there are people around who do confirm your beliefs with words like “it’s just a hobby” like your creations can only have value to yourself. You could even end up doing these things at work for free because you don’t feel your skills are worth any financial reward.
It leads you to read the work of published writers and journalists and so on and think I’m not as good as them. There are some professions that require professional training but many that don’t, there are many writers and photographers who are entirely self-taught.
You’ll know, or discover whether you are good at what you’re doing the important thing is to not let the outsider thinking prevent you from learning and trying, or valuing what you create.