November 16, 2022
Rules of Thumb - The Rule of Thirds

How ToDevelop A Silver Tongue, A Golden Touch, and A Mind Like A Steel Trap Using The Rule of Thirds 

Ape Shit Crazy for Three, Please.

You know what our brains love? Our brains love threes. We can’t help but latch onto that shit like [apes latched onto a banana, like stink latched onto weed.]

Our big brains process information in patterns. They are pattern recognizing machines.
Three is the smallest number of elements needed to create a pattern.

From the time we’re children:
Snap, Crackle, Pop.
The Three Bears.
Reading, Writing, Arithmetic.

To rules for surviving through adulthood:
Fire: Stop, Drop, Roll.
Bear Attack: Spray, Fight, Pray.
Drowning In Consumerism: Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.

Threes rule the roost all the way down to the best combo for good, wholesome fun:
Rock, Paper, Scissors.
Sex, Drugs, Rock 'n' Roll.
Ménage à trois.
[We. We? Oui.]

There are three rules for things we didn’t know we needed three rules for:
Thee Rules for Middle-Age Happiness.*
Three Rules for a Planet To Be a Planet.** (R.I.P., Pluto. R.I.P)
Three Rules to Keep a Gremlin.***

There are three Rules to Plumbing –
1. Hot’s on the left, cold’s on the right.
2. Shit runs downhill.
3. Don’t chew your fingernails.
– which are three rules all of us [we all] should learn early on.

We see the pattern and use it everywhere. We see it throughout our lives. Hell, it’s how we organize them (short term, medium term, long-term), arrange them (beginning, middle, end), and codify them (before, during, after). (Though strangely it’s hard to tell exactly where you are until it’s over.)

We see the Rule of Three in the pyramid – its three sides form the strongest shape.
Simple. Balanced. Powerful.

Lantern Slide - Universal Opportunity League, Pyramid Source: Museums Victoria Public Domain (Licensed as Public Domain Mark)

Groups of threes just flow off the tongue and ring in the ears.
Fee Fie Foe.
Ho Ho Ho.
Blood, Sweat, Tears.

We love a trio in our stories,
Harry, Ron, and Hermine.
We love our stories in a trio.
Lord of the Rings. {the Dark Knight}
We even love our stories in a trio of trios.
Star Wars.

You want to stick something in someone’s head - a joke, a presentation, a … ?
Put it into a sequence of three.

Want to write a play?
Do it in three acts.

You want to avoid overwhelm and
Conquer Self-Doubt,
Chase a Big Goal,
Take Over the Globe?
Chunk it into threes and you can do all three.
Productivity. Prioritization. Persuasion, baby.

The Rule of Thirds for a Creative Life

So how do you use the power of three in your creative life?

There’s a visual approach, which we’ll get to, but here’s another idea, or three, as well.

Your best creative life requires a Creative Practice.

If you want to Design a Better Life Through Creativity and build a Creative Practice, focus on, you guessed it, three things:

  • Develop a Creative Mindset
  • Develop Creative Goals & Habits
  • Create Everyday

Simple, balanced, powerful.

The Rule of Thirds in Visual Images - Designs, Films, Paintings, & Photographs

But maybe you’re not here to talk about all that. Maybe you’re just here to learn how to rock the Rule of Thirds in Visual Composition.

Either way, each path will jump start your creative work.

The Intersection of Thirds

You know what else our big brains go nuts over? Intersections. The intersection of lines. That’s where things get interesting. When we see lines intersect, our neuro jelly bags light up like an old school Lite-Brite, pattern-processing that sensory candy into an image that we can’t help but be pulled towards.

Description English: trumpet intersections - -very close Date 18 June 2012 Source Own work Author Hans Haase

But guess what else these big brains love?

Intersecting of [people} and events as each move along their own path and crisscross, interweave, and intertwine with anothers’.

Like when your path leads you right to your kids’ classroom restroom with an embarrassing gastro emergency. But luckily, you spot a copy of that book you loved as a kid to at least make this path more entertaining. Out in the hallway, a separate path is leading your kid’s teacher and a classmate’s mom to the same restroom to retrieve a forgotten dental retainer before three-hundred fucking dollars (that’s with dental insurance!) disappears for the second time. That could be interesting. Oh, and three days before, some numbskull kid broke the lock, but you won’t know this until you recheck the lock. Or the door’s opened from the outside.

{That was, and always will be, interesting.}

Like I said, intersections are interesting.

Lines intersecting.

People and events intersecting.

Ideas intersecting.

Isn’t that what creativity’s all about? The intersection and resulting combustion {detonation} of ideas? Peanut Butter’s living its best life and Jelly’s doing its thing. One day their paths collide. BAM! Their gooey love making is magical and delicious. And when our buddy Bread’s path connects with this party... SHAZAM! Ménage à trois. This creatively crazy ape shit world just got all kinds of interesting.

Use the Rule of Thirds

It’s a good rule of thumb. Which means that you don’t have to lean on it all the time, but when you do it’s reliable. It works.

Simple. Balanced. Powerful.

Use it as an artist, and break your visual compositions - your photographs, designs, paintings - into sections of three to make them interesting.

Take complicated ideas - in your life, your finances, your creative practice -  and simplify them into threes to make them actionable.

Look for Intersections

Intersections are where things get interesting. In your photographs, your artwork, your ideas, your relationships, your life. Learn to spot them, or better yet, create them yourself. They’re an {easy ingredient to spice up your triple souffle of something pithy and funny.}

Develop your mindset. Start a creative practice.

Tap your creativity. Become a more creative version of yourself.

If you’re in, click here to get started.

If you want to learn more about the benefits of a creative practice on your health, productivity, and happiness, click here to read more.

About the Author Nona Bird

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