You may remember Hyedie who did the graphics for my website and who told us about her Cupcake Rides in an interview here. She recently introduced me to Girl, Writing and in particular to this blog post. In it, novelist Allison Baggio recommends “Work Book by Steven Heighton should be on the shelf of all writers hoping to survive the strange process of letting their work out into the world.” And so, I’ve added another book to my reading queue!
What I loved in Allison’s post was the quote she shared from Steven Heighton’s book on the lost art of boredom. Heighton says, “We have to remember how to invite and receive the words and insights we can’t force to mind. We have to relearn how to muse, drowse and stare into blankness, adrift, dormant, even bored, especially now when our various screens are always present – firewalls between us and the reality of dreams.”
How true this is! We avoid being bored, sitting still, doing “nothing” with vehemence. How many of us, when given a gift of half an hour of free time, feel like we should be doing something? So we flick on the TV, click on the smartphone, check our email (again), browse Facebook, send a tweet, text at random, surf the net…you get the picture. There are so many screens to plug in to, that we forget how important it is to give some face time to our Self: that part of us that brings us ideas, insights, wisdom.
I’ve talked before about how my creative ideas started coming to me when I was forced to sit in the armchair in my daughter’s nursery. Day after day, night after night, at various intervals in the 24 hour period, I was forced to do nothing but sit in a chair and feed my daughter. And after I had memorized every square inch of her room, after I had started feeling a little more comfortable with nursing, something bizarre happened.
I had an idea. And then another! And then another!
Those times of stillness rebirthed me; I am so grateful that I was “forced” to silence my daily life for short periods at a time that now it has become one of my most anticipated times of the day. It’s when my blog posts are born, and other writing projects come to life. Every night when I settle into the armchair, now with my son (who I’m secretly hoping never outgrows this!), I wonder which new character is going to walk into my mind fully formed, or what insight I will receive that will help me understand a particular situation.
The lost art of boredom. How do you work this into your day? What are your experiences with “staring into blankness”?