Patterns versus Templates

These days, I’ve been learning to accept my need for patterns. They soothe me. I think they’re beautiful in their repetitions. And I think it’s why my creative and personal writing skews towards poetry rather than prose—poems require rhythm and flow, which I think are pattern-like even if they are irregular. It’s why my favorite crafty hobbies are crochet and knitting.

It’s also why the things I most appreciate in other people’s work involve motifs and tropes.

I loved how Kate Evangelista’s “Savor” made subtle use of details referring to vision and perception to underscore events that would ultimately blindside the female protagonist. I geek out when I come across genre-savvy characters because I tend to identify with them.

It’s even part of why I get obsessive over musicals and other media that go the extra mile of establishing theme melodies for specific characters. Do you guys remember Batman: The Animated Series and how it lets you know which villain Batman’s going to face from the intro music alone?

So heck yeah, I love patterns.

Original image by leoleobobeo on Pixabay (slightly modified)

I feel I should point out that patterns aren’t the same as templates. I mean, SURE, when you go to Thesaurus.Com “template” comes up as a synonym for “pattern”. But they definitely have their differences; and to people like me, they absolutely matter.

Templates are boring. As far as I’m concerned, they don’t leave you much space for creativity. They make you fill out blanks and swap one type of fact out for other types of facts.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. I don’t actually hate templates because I find them pretty useful (especially when we’re talking about Excel or design). But they still end up being fairly rigid in terms of form. Ultimately, templates give end products a more or less homogenized feel.

But patterns! If you’ve ever been part of a knitting or crochet group on Facebook, you’ll understand why I wax poetic over this. Something like The Virus Stitch may become popular, but the products that come out of the craze can look very different from each other because different colors and yarns were applied or alternative tensions were experimented with. The opportunity for changing the form is much greater here.

The key for me, I suppose, is my inherent need for freedom with structure. I want to be able to do what feels right, but I also want to have some rules so I won’t end up all over the place.

It’s why I enjoyed writing SEO-friendly articles for clients when I started out—it let me use my creativity, but required me to work within certain parameters (keywords need to be used, has to be a certain length, must reflect the brand). It’s probably why I was so fascinated with Tarot card reading too; these were the same cards, ready to be interpreted and re-interpreted depending on the situation.

Patterns, to me, are open to contexts—not absolutes. And if there’s one thing I think the world needs to remember these days, it’s the compelling value of context.

IMO this is where religion and social justice goes terribly wrong, but that’s for another post. Maybe.

What do you think?

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