We don’t typically think of boredom as a good thing. Growing up, I knew a lot of kids who were frequently bored. “I’m sooo bored. I don’t know what to do,” they would complain to me while sticking their tongues out. I wasn’t extremely sympathetic, mostly because I barely knew what being bored felt like. I was an active kid whose greatest frustration was that there weren’t more hours in the day. I wanted to paint, draw, play with Legos, and build forts until the end of time.
Fast forward a decade, and my determination to be active and “do everything” got me in trouble. I had five jobs, four hobbies, a girlfriend, a volunteer position, and a schedule that ran solidly from 8am to 10pm, every day. I enjoyed every activity immensely, but eventually found myself burning out. Worse, my creative spark was dying.
I eventually had to realize that I couldn’t do everything and had to consolidate. And I discovered that I was missing something very important, and had been for a long time – boredom.
It sounds strange, but being bored allows our minds to unwind, process, and wander off the beaten path. Check out this article, which features two researchers who have performed creativity tests on bored and non-bored people. Karen Gasper, one of the researchers, explained, “If you were asked to think of vehicles, the first thing that comes to mind might be a car, but if you’re bored, you might be more likely to say that a camel is an example of a vehicle. So you see how things that might remotely seem connected are connected to what you’re thinking about.”
If you’re hitting the same kind of creative funk that I did, the solution might be putting yourself in the same situation my childhood friends tried so hard to avoid. I’ve discovered that the best solution for writer’s block is giving my mind some time to get bored and eventually decide to head off on its own adventure.