Boredom breeds creativity

Published on 25 July 2023 at 06:52

Last week I listened to a YouTube video by Caroline Winkler which discussed her realities of living alone. One question that she was asked was "what if I get bored?" to which she said: just BE BORED (I may be paraphrasing, but not very much). And that's what I've tried to do.

So while I sit here with nothing to do, I've realized that it gives me a chance to process my thoughts and just let my hands move. And what did my hands do? This week, they made two mini flip books out of sticky note pads featuring a bouncy ball and a man throwing a ball. I drew a few doodles, and I wrote a few poems. I even managed to write a draft of a whole other post which will be published later on once I'm able to do some actual research on the topic. None of this ever happens in my typical week.

Boredom is a really great tool for forcing you to find something that YOU want to do. BBC Culture wrote an article on this exact phenomenon in 2020, when boredom was at its peak with the pandemic. The thought is that when you're bored, it's because your mind is looking for some form of stimulus. If it can't find it in the immediate environment, it creates it. Boredom gives you the space and will to move into a creative process. It's a strange sense of motivation, and the more there is of it, the more creativity seems to stem from it. Many of the writers and artists mentioned throughout the post purposely seek this state of mind in order to really get into a solid "flow state". This has been my experience as well. 

This week while bored I picked up some new pens and read half of an old book as well; mind you, I haven't actually read a book in multiple years, so it was nice. Being bored - or rather, not having immediate responsibilities to attend to and no active stimulus - allowed me to go through the motions and sink into a place I thrive in. My only problem with boredom is that it doesn't happen more often ~ and let me explain what I mean by that. I get bored a lot, especially at home, but usually that time gets filled with Instagram or Facebook reels, which I am not proud of. I honestly think the amount of time I've been spending on screens is to the point it's screwing with my vision. For reference, I sit in front of a computer for 7.75 hours a day at work, my daily phone average is currently 4.55 hours (which absurdly is still 35% down from last week's average), and the TV is on the majority of every evening. The last few days I've been doing my best outside of work to take a bit of a screen hiatus and it's helped a lot with opening my mental space. No random notifications, no scrolling for 3+ hours into nothingness - just me, a pen, and some paper. I actually wrote this whole post in my notebook before typing it up. I feel like I have more control when there aren't 100 companies all bidding for my time. So I'm taking it. I can spend my boredom elsewhere.

I can spend my boredom on myself. I can spend boredom on my projects; on my thoughts, on my creativity. What I have found is that it helps to have something to default to when bored. That's the gap that Social Media tends to fill, it acts as a default fix when we're bored. While amusing, it's very rarely actually engaging in a beneficial way. But finding something you really do enjoy that you can stare at when your bored will help process that "strange motivation" in a more creative and beneficial way. For me, this default is We have Rhymed. I like having a list of things I can do on here that flex my mind a bit when I have nothing better to do. 

There are absolutely responsibilities that need to be taken care of, and not everyone has the luxury of slowing down very much. But if you don't have something going on in the moment, and you have this feeling like "I NEED to do something" it may be a sign that you actually need to slow down and put the phone down. Pick up a pen and write what you want, where you want to be, and why. Make some doodles. Just scribble for a while. Take a walk outside. Learn to process yourself and your surroundings and use it in a way that makes you feel good. The more time you take to notice yourself and what you have, the more tools you have to work with. Our minds are good at making connections and problem solving, and when you give it the tools and time to do so, it'll get creative. Boredom breeds creativity.

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Liberty Jensen • Writer

Liberty is a donations manager, finance student, and full-time drinker of coffee. She enjoys poetry, her cats, and spending time with her husband.

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