Why boredom is your friend
My Nana once said, when faced with three listless grandchildren, ‘only boring people get bored’. Mostly she was right. The past few weeks have felt a little listless. I have visited projects like rooms of my house, stood in their doorways and then walked out again. I am standing in the hallway of my brain, staring out of the window and berating myself for being indecisive and so damn unproductive.
I told as much to a writer friend, that I had just come off finishing a big project and that I was now feeling a bit directionless. No stranger to the feeling she gave some excellent advice, which essentially amounted to: chill out, yeah? There is a buzz after expending a bunch of effort, one that can make you feel that you are an unstoppable Doing Machine who can continue in that vein forever. ‘Hand me that task list, I’m going to make soup out of it and sell it.’ Therein lies the road to exhaustion and ruin. Really you should probably wrap yourself in a foil blanket and replace some electrolytes or something. Rand R and R: rest, recharge and refuel.
My writer friend described a person’s creativity as a tank that needs to be refilled. By having new experiences, encountering new ideas and getting inspired. If you stand in your brain hallway for a while at some point you might think, ‘sod it’ and put your shoes on and head out into the world. Go and see a film, see a show, read a book –get some new ideas and new perspectives. Enjoy what others are making.
These days I appreciate that boredom is part of the process, the snooze after the run, the tidying up after the party, the shaking of your mental Etch-a-Sketch. It’s got to be done so that one day you will be inspired to move beyond the hallway and into a room and you will think ‘wow, this is an amazing room, I forgot I had it. I could do anything with this room. I could create 50 foot tall robots that can transform into cars and would fight about a city skyline at sunset. No, that’s a shit idea. I hated that film. What’s that smell? I god, I’ve tracked poo into my room. I should have taken my shoes off in the hallway, that’s what it’s there for. That and being a metaphor and all that. What do I do now? I should open a window, let in some metaphorical fresh air. Damn, but I’ll tread this muck into the carpet. I could slip out of my shoes. No, that’s a complete cliché, it’s been done a thousand times. I should be coming up with a creative solution, using my resources. But all I’ve got is a bottle of Lucozade and a roll of tin foil. What a rubbish shopping trip. I could make something, something that’s never been seen before. Soup. No. A car that could drive me to the window? I’ve never seen that before. Yeah, and the car can change into a robot. But where’s the drama? Okay so there’s another robot, and they’re both called… Doing Machines, but this one’s evil. And they fight. Above Chicago. No, Guildford. My Nana would be pleased. God it stinks in here…’