Today I've been thinking a lot about creativity. Here are some llamas:
(or maybe alpaccas. I think they're alpaccas actually)
What's the difference between creative work and other types of work? I'm not sure it has much to do with the nature of the task at hand. Pushing pixels around or designing a piece of web functionality doesn't necessarily mean I'm being creative. Working on a piece of database functionality doesn't necessarily mean I'm not being creative.
Creative work is joyful, and I think taking a joyful approach to my work has a lot more to do with inspiration than what I happen to be working on. So if I want to be doing creative work, the important question really is, "what's the best way to stay inspired?"
I'm not sure I have one answer… But, if you have a spare afternoon on your hands, you could do a lot worse than to go chill with the Llamas* of Sussex (*alpacas).
Of course creativity isn't really about alpacas. Inspiration doesn't necessarily follow all perambulation. But, going for a walk with a camera does push me to do a few things with my brain that I wouldn't if I went and made a cup of tea, flopped in front of Netflix for a while, or indeed just kept working. It pushes me into a different headscape. I get to put down whatever challenges are at hand, and spend time thinking freely and exploring things around me.
there's more to spending time with the Llamas of Sussex than finding inspiration through beauty
The camera does something quite special here. Without doing any disciplined meditation or anything, just by picking up a camera I have access to this third eye that sees things quite differently than the other two. It asks that I open myself up to different ways of seeing things. And it encourages me not to hurry. I'd never have captured this exposure if I hadn't paused to explore the surfaces of this 4000 year old yew tree.
It's a pretty cool tree — long before the cosy little chapel stood here, long even before the church that preceded that, locals would have come to the tree to worship and pray. I took a few minutes of wandering around it, exploring it with my eyeballs, exploring it with the singular glass eyeball of the Fujifilm. There were many images of the same piece of tree, but this one somehow has more colours than all the rest put together. This was awe-inspiring and beautiful place to spend some moments, but there's more to spending time with the Llamas of Sussex than finding inspiration through beauty. This way of thinking about things, ambling around them until we find an interesting approach, looking for extra colours, peering at them from all angles, is at the heart of creative work.
And there's nothing better for that than getting lost in the woods.