I’m not the kind of person who enjoys sitting around doing nothing. At least, not very often.
It’s the curse of a distraction-prevalent environment. When I’m done with work, instead of just sitting with my thoughts or taking a walk, I can play a game on my phone, listen to a podcast, and scroll through Netflix all at the same time while deciding which movie or show I’m going to watch.
Have you ever finished your work for the day, sat back in your chair, and just let yourself think?
Not just for a minute or two before moving on to something else. But until you get bored.
Think about it. Seriously — sit or lean back on or near whatever you’re on or near and think about it for a second. We are constantly filling out heads and occupying our minds with stuff. Are we taking enough time to allow our thoughts to stick around long enough to spark new (to us) ideas?
Sometimes I think we’re afraid to be bored, because being bored implies we’re not doing something productive or “using our time wisely.” I don’t know how this started, this need to always be doing something in order to be successful, but it’s a misconception. You don’t need to work all the time to do more. In fact, doing less might actually do you some serious good.
Boredom is where ideas breed, thoughts splitting into concepts that twist and morph into stories that gently take you by the hand and beg you to let them lead you down a path you’ve never gone before.
When you allow yourself space to think and breathe and just BE, something changes. And it’s a good kind of change. Because your brain needs room to filter though everything you’re throwing at it and decide what to do with it. You have to give ideas space to plant roots.
Especially this time of year, go ahead. Let yourself be bored. The second day of my holiday vacation, I got a new idea for a project I plan on starting after the New Year. Didn’t ask for it, didn’t really want it (if I’m being honest), but there was room for it, and so it flew in and made itself comfortable. I may never have found it if I hadn’t been doing absolutely nothing.
Trust me. Give your brain a rest, so it can start creating — whether you’re ready for it to or not.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.