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creative boredom

How can we be bored?

Every writer has their own process. Whether or not you experience(d) writer’s block or you compulsively maintain a morning writing ritual – one thing that affects all writers is boredom.

How can writers be bored? Stories are waiting everywhere. There’s always another to revise.

Maybe not being bored is the problem. That was the subject proposed on an NPR segment I was listening to a few weeks ago. Since then I have followed the progress of the Bored and Brilliant Project. Although I have not participated directly, the project is open to anyone who would like to monitor and minimize their mobile screentime. Through a series of personal challenges, Bored and Brilliant is structured to make volunteers step back from mobile phones and “spend more time thinking creatively.”

Studies show we need boredom in order to have more creative thoughts. With the constant mental stimulation smartphones provide, most people don’t ‘get bored’ as often as in the past. I remember many times during my no-tech adolescence when boredom was painful. There was nothing to do (everywhere on Long Island required a car), no where to go (the only place on LI is ‘the mall’), and there is only so much one can read before that becomes a yawn too.

social media for authorsI feel like I started indirectly participating with Bored and Brilliant not long before the project launched. In December I decommissioned my author Facebook Page, and I deleted the Facebook app from my phone. One of the B&B challenges happens to be to delete an app that you use ‘too much’ and not for the best purposes. What was Facebook adding to my life? Why was I scrolling the Facebook newsfeed? I had no good answers. Delete.

I need to quote a scene from one of my all-time favorite movies Before Sunrise. “What good is saved time if we don’t do anything with it?” This was a question posed by Jesse, played by Ethan Hawke.

I asked myself this question. I am using ‘saved’ time for:

  1. Reading. I’m in the midst of Elizabeth Strout’s Burgess Boys.
  2. Nothing. Now I need to quote a phrase from Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love: “Dolce far niente.” The sweetness of doing nothing.
  3. Writing naked. Yes, adding to the blog, but mainly I aim to finish my short story collection this year. Before then I want to get another story from the collection published.

Want to participate with the Bored and Brilliant Challenge? There’s an app for that. Moment on Apple devices, and Break Free on Androids.