The phrase “beginner mind” ran through my head this morning while I considered how to approach my photography challenge today — and what to post here on the blog in terms of relating the challenge to creativity. Here’s the rub: Although I have taken thousands of photographs over the years, and sold hundreds of them, they were primarily centered in just one specialty area. I knew what I was doing and was able to shoot in an autotelic manner — uttertly absorbed, not paying attention to the how or the why, but simply snapping away. And the results were satisfying. Now, I am trying to expand my subject area and improve my skills. And the results are not satisfying! I am jonesing for the feeling of flow!
For example, I am not accustomed to shooting pictures indoors. I am having terrible trouble with the lighting. This is hard! I get frustrated! The pictures are awful! When we are not sure how to do something, it becomes a “challenging” learning experience. Eventually, once we gain the required skill, the activity can possibly reach that flow state. In the meantime, right now I am a beginner at this and I need to keep that in mind. If I expect to be able to take picture perfect shots from the very first attempt, that would not be realistic. As much as I would like to rely on the magical, it doesn’t work that way and so I keep on deleting the evil, bad pix.
I know that the secret here is to accept that there will be a lot of “learning opportunities” along the learning curve. How far I progress will depend on how much effort I am willing to put in, how committed I am to improving. But the hardest part of the learning, for me, is to be patient.
Patience is the double-forked root, for me, of a daily creativity practice. There is the literal practicing of the craft, and there is the repeated doing over time — the showing up to do the work.
Some days are easier than others. How do you make yourself show up for daily practice — or do you? Do you practice the learner or beginner mindset? Does curiosity grab you and pull you into your creative work?
How do you interpret practice? Does patience ring a bell for you?
Speaking of bells, here is the vintage peep hole in my front door. Apparently part of my learning today should include: why did the background in one shot turn out creamy, and the other starker white?