Professional ghostwriter talks productivity – Go do…nothing?
Now, I’d like to talk about the power of… boredom?
If our culture is obsessed with anything, it’s obsessed with time. Your social media feed is likely teeming with articles about how we can master it, get more of it, and get more out of what we have.
But is the obsession with the effective use of time really all that effective?
A simple study of the habits of successful writers from across many generations and cultures shows a couple of common pass times. Walks and naps.
Go read a writer detail their daily routine. Often their creative time comes after a nap. Or they return to their desk once they’ve taken a walk somewhere.
I could link to a thousand articles about how the human mind works, but for our purposes, it’s important to extract from those traits that a great many writers from history do a lot of their work while bored.
A walk puts the mind at ease. Naps are the mind in comfortable repose. By our strict cultural standards, those are not “effective” uses of time.
Writers need to understand that brainstorming (the mind in an overly active state) is only one single means of drumming up ideas. There is the brainstorming’s antithesis to consider as well. An under active state, the mind at its most sedate and passive.
Right now, I’m working on a novella. Each morning I sit down and spend a good amount of time writing out and developing ideas for the story. At a glance it looks like brainstorming BUT it is critical to note that a lot of the germs of those ideas came when I was doing other things.
Walking my dog. Staring out the window while drinking a glass of water. Listening to music.
Think of water. There is an image I’ll venture a step further on. Impede the river’s flow at any point and the pools downstream dry up pretty quickly. Sometimes you need to just let the flow go free.
We have a cultural aversion to boredom. Until the turn of the 20th Century though, a productive work day was a matter of life and death.
Daydream and the crops rot in the field.
Our dialect is full of idioms that chastise even an idle moment. Ever hear that the Devil finds work for idle hands. Of course you have but I’ll stick my neck out and say, let the devil in.
We have a cultural aversion to creativity as well (because dreamers make poor plowers) so maybe there is something there we can work with.
When you’re done reading this, go do… nothing. Don’t even think about your story. You’ll be surprised at how fast and furious the ideas will flood when you pull away the dam of so-called productivity.