Monday, March 23, 2015

Simply Does It

So, were you able to catch a safe glimpse of the eclipse? Here in very sunny Shropshire we were a little dazzled by it all. I was hoping that I might be able to snap a photo of the event, but I don’t have the necessary special equipment for capturing it on my professional camera, and in some ways, the clear blue skies and brightness of the sun would have made this difficult. So, instead of going all hi-tech, I had to go low-tech instead.

It was time to make a pin-hole camera: cue white sheet of paper on a clipboard, a piece of card, and a drawing pin. As you can see from the photo, it worked really well! I also used the colander from the kitchen and got that to produce a multitude of eclipses! Sometimes, the old fashioned ways are the best ways of doing things.

It reminded me of a time last year when I was called to help out Country Walking magazine. One of the staff writers had done a walk in the area and dictated the route description onto their smartphone. When they came to write it up, back at the office a few days later, they were horrified to discover that the recorded route description was all garbled and unusable. 

As a local contributor to where they’d walked, they asked me to tackle the route and produce a detailed route description. No problem. Of course I could help out. I was being paid, after all. The staff writer asked how I recorded my route descriptions. I use the low-tech method: pen and paper.

I have tried to use dictaphones in the past, but in my opinion they don’t work well. When you’ve said, “Cross the field and then a stile. Cross the next field and a stile. Cross over another field and a stile. Continue over the next field and a stile …” and then you find yourself in difficulty and need to retrace your steps, it’s not easy to work out when you’ve rewound the directions exactly which field and stile you’ve wound back to. Whereas with pen and paper, you simply cross out each stile and field as you retrace your steps.

Likewise, although I like my laptop and computer, when it comes to just jotting down thoughts and ideas, a notepad and pen work best for me. The slowness of forming the words as I write help me to formulate my ideas. I type too fast to be able to do that straight onto a computer. (Clearly, I’m a slow thinker!) 

So, next time you need to do a writing task, just pause for a moment and ask yourself the question: am I using the right tools for the job? Sometimes, the simplest tools work best.

Good luck.