Recently, a friend on Twitter noted that some days she feels like 90% of her time is spent on the business of being a writer and only 10% is spent on the actual writing.
And it got me thinking about time as a writer — what we spend our time and emotional energy doing. It seems like there’s never enough time to get it all done. Someone once said that being an author is like being in school — there’s always homework. It’s true — there’s always more you can be doing. For example, today has been about catching up on the business side of things since I had a deadline on Friday and while I’ve been on hold with various companies, I’ve been flicking through Twitter or making to-do lists or cleaning up my desktop because what else are you going to do?
You finish one task and head straight into the next and if you can do two at once all the better. Rinse, repeat and this is how most of our time is spent. But this isn’t a post about preserving time for writing because I think we all know how important that is. This is a post about preserving time for being bored.
Seriously, when was the last time you were bored? When was the last time you stood in line at the bank or sat waiting in a doctor’s office and didn’t pull out your cell phone to check email/Twitter/Instagam/News? We never have to be bored anymore which means we’re never forced to entertain ourselves. There’s always something external to do it for us.
For me, imagination comes from boredom. Growing up, it comes from sitting in your parents car as they drag you around on errands and you have nothing to do but think. Or lying in bed at night unable to go to sleep. It comes from having no other choice but to make up stories in your head.
You know why I think so many writers come up with ideas in the shower? Because there’s not much else to do but think. There’s nothing to turn to to distract you and occupy your imagination. It’s just you and your mind, hanging out.
Recently, I’ve actually been taking active steps to be bored. When it looks like I’ll be waiting for something and I feel myself reaching for my phone, I purposefully put it down. To me this is important because it opens up space for imagination to come in, even if it’s in small ways.
So many of us juggle a lot of responsibilities and there’s always a huge demand on our time. Finding these small periods of time to be bored can keep the creative energy humming which means that when you do get a chance to sit down and write, hopefully calling on that energy will feel a little easier.
Next time you’re forced to pause for something, put down the cell phone and think, daydream, imagine.