Tuesday, February 12, 2013

break the rules

Breaking the Rules at a Photo Shoot for Maude 
I think I have to add one thing to my list of the very few things I know. And I think this is one worth sharing.

I can remember in journalism school being told time and time again, learn all of the rules of writing. Grammar, punctuation, AP style, don't use cliches, don't start a sentence with but, use active voice over passive, don't use run ons....etc. But then I remember being told one day by one of my favorite professors (Tall, beautiful gray hair, oh and she won a Pulitzer -- no big deal), that once those rules are mastered -- we should break them. 


I remember learning this same concept in my photography courses and graphic design classes. I am learning the same thing now in my counseling courses. Learn how to do it all perfectly -- and then ignore it.

Well it's not really that simple, I should probably add this in: ignore when appropriate. Your rule breaking should have intent. The run on sentence fits the voice of the character, the overexposed photograph amplifies the artistic statement.

I was reminded of this last night as I read a book called "Selling Water by the River" by Shane Hipps. His whole approach to religion is that while it gives us structure, it's not necessary to have a relationship with Jesus, or God. Some people in the religious community really dislike this guy -- which makes me like him all the more.

He applied this whole notion to the idea of religion, which I found interesting and liberating. You learn the commandments, you fear God, you seek the paths away from sin. You live in the structure that religion gives you. And once you have learned all of those things -- when necessary -- you disregard them. And Hipps isn't just trying to be a rebel, mind you. He takes this approach from Jesus himself, who was quite the rule breaker of religion. (Healing the blind man on the Sabbath, turning water into wine in sacred containers, not condoning the stoning of an adulterous woman...)

I think the point of Hipps, my favorite professor and my teachers now is that you have to learn the basics so that you can get beyond them. They are the building blocks. But if you only stick to the "rules" you will never grow. You won't push the limits. You won't see where what you've learned can really take you. You'll miss the extraordinary.

So, learn the rules in all things you do. And then learn how to break them.

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