Working Through The Clichés

July 27, 2010 · 9 comments

Everything in the world has been photographed. Every situation in the world has been written about, even if it is news. Only the characters and location change. If you write fiction, there is a finite number of plots. Nothing is new, and there is nothing you can do to change that. However, the number of views, points, opinions and slants is infinite. You can do something about that.

In his book, The Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations Georges Polit has …categorized every dramatic situation that might occur in a story or performance. How many times has Romeo and Juliet been written? The famous star-crossed lovers plot is played out day after day on television. It is the theme of innumerable books and other plays. In fact, it is done to death. In fact, it works and people love it.

A photographer I once knew said, when he went on a shoot, he knew that the first thing he would see would be all the cliché snapshot pictures everyone else sees. He devised a method of getting around this do what everyone else is doing problem. He simply started shooting. He shot rolls and rolls of film to get it out of his system. After that he began to see. That is, he began to see in the sense of creative pictures.

This same principle can be applied to any creative endeavor I can think of. Research and problem solving are other good examples of working out the useless. You may spend hours researching a problem and begin to think you have wasted a lot of time. This is not wasted time; it is time that brings you closer to the answer by removing the detritus of no concern.

To resort to yet another platitude – do something, even if its wrong – is the answer to getting started. If what you do happens to be wrong, well…

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Mari July 27, 2010 at 11:37 am

First thoughts may have spawned the cliché “great minds think alike.” One’s ability to stick with idea generation, to think beyond what’s typical, can be the key to a profound vision. But this, too, is a generalization. Always and never cannot be attributed to the value of creativity, but I do believe that genius can be found in the most simple solutions. Thanks for causing me to acknowledge this today, Hal.

Hal Brown July 27, 2010 at 2:33 pm

I love the way you always add insight to the idea(s) here. Thanks Mari.

Kissie July 27, 2010 at 1:36 pm

“detritus” Really? Really, Hal? Another “word of the day” for me? I’ll tell you this … if you’re endeavoring to send me to the dictionary from time to time, you’ve succeeded!

Your advice is stimulating … I just don’t know what I’d like to create (yet). I thank you for the introduction to George Polti. But, Amazon didn’t let me see enough inside. :-(
Kissie´s last blog ..KEEPERS

Hal Brown July 27, 2010 at 2:34 pm

We all can learn from each other, if we keep an open mind. Thanks Kissie.

Jonathan Elliot July 29, 2010 at 7:57 pm

Hal, thanks so much for reminding me of what’s true. When I started writing I felt like I would struggle to say anything on my topic. Now I have a list of topics and notes *this* long. It’s exciting. What you’ve reminded me here is to up my quality, I love alternative ways of looking at creativity.

Many thanks

Jonathan from Spritzophrenia :)

Hal Brown July 30, 2010 at 6:48 am

Thanks and good luck Jonathan. :)

Mark Dykeman August 2, 2010 at 2:19 pm

I once read that every writer has at least 100,000 words of utter crap to write before they start to write some good stuff.

Or was it 100,000 page? God, I hope not.

At any rate, your post reminded me of that saying. Good stuff.
Mark Dykeman´s last blog ..Does your brain engage immediately or need to warm up

Hal Brown August 2, 2010 at 2:32 pm

In his book “Outliers” Malcolm Gladwell repeatedly mentions the “10,000-Hour Rule”, claiming that the key to success in any field is, to a large extent, a matter of practicing a specific task for a total of around 10,000 hours.
Good book by the way.
Thanks for the comment.

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