Cultivating Creativity with Boredom


Today, I took myself to a cafe to do not much in particular.

I sat at a wobbly table in the back – the only seating available on a chill fall day – and let my mind wander as I listened to the comforting white noise of people typing, conversations, music I could barely make out, and the whirring, splashing, and steaming sounds of baristas at work. I sipped my latte.

I took nothing with me but my phone, a pen, and a couple of notebooks.

I went there to cultivate boredom.

I did little, really. Jotted a few notes, doodled a few sketches, checked my email. I traced the lines on my palm with my pen. Mostly I stared at my stacked notebooks and did nothing much at all.

From the idea of need-to-do, I *should* have been home and *doing* all the things I had on my plate. I should have been at my computer, working on one or both of my paying gigs, searching for markets writing for this blog.

But what I needed to do was get bored.

I also need a novel to write this month, and I’ve been having a Devil of a time f
inding the thing I want to write. I needed to make space for ideas.

Boredom is good, you see. It makes us feel the emptiness of not
doing something, the want to be doing something. It is like hunger telling us we need nourishment. Boredom is where ideas are born. Ideas like novels.

My problem is just how not bored my brain is when I’m home. It’s hard to be bored with all the writing to do, the laundry, dishes, shopping, cleaning. I find a space of empty time, and end up falling it with doing instead of sitting and doing nothing.

I needed to get bored, to find some space, to escape into the open and feel the lack of things to do, to make my mind wander into new places in search of new ideas.

When people say they never want to be bored, I wonder if they also never want to be hungry. But how much better does food taste when we wait until we are hungry and know what will really taste good?

And just how much better areImage-1 the ideas born in the dull backdrop of boredom?

So I packed up as little as I could get away with, and I went out in search of boredom, space, uncomfortably fidgeting with nothing to do.

And then, it came from somewhere: a small image, a hint of a shape, and, most importantly, a first line.

I came home and wrote 3,000 words. I found my novel.


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