By Joey Phoenix
When you ask people how they are, what do you often hear them say?
The response I hear the most is Busy.
We are incredibly busy. It’s remarkable how busy we all are. We have work and school and hobbies and friends and family and side hustles.
So many side hustles.
And it’s this tide of busy that pigeonholes our creativity, creating cycles of creating that follow pre-existing patterns. We go through the process of making late at night after we’ve done everything else and we get burnt out. Often, worse, we quit making things at all.
What’s the solution to all this?
Create space to be bored.
When’s the last time you scheduled an hour of boredom into your day? An hour where you turned off your computer and your phone and just sat in one place and thought about the kinds of things you would like to do. When’s the last time you removed all stimuli from your space and just let your mind run wild with possibilities?
Whenever I feel stuck or stressed out or struggling to find inspiration, I make space for myself to process through my thoughts and things I’ve experienced without the press of the outside. I attempt to turn off the noise and let my mind just do what it does.
Sometimes my problem is that I’ve had too many of the same inputs, and need to go look at other people’s art or listen to great music to get the idea wheels spinning again, but mostly I just need time to sit and do absolutely nothing.
Creativity begins with a void. If you empty your world of stimuli temporarily and just sit and wait, ideas will come to you. Your brain is wonderful and wants to fill your thoughts with ideas whenever there is an absence of inputs because it feels like it has to compensate for the lack of information. This is why so many good ideas come to us when we’re driving familiar routes or in the shower – temporarily we’ve turned off our brains to external inputs and it starts to fill in the gaps.
How do you get started?
Schedule a boredom date with yourself in your calendar. Bring a notebook (or sketchbook) and a pen and your chosen non-alcoholic beverage and then do nothing. Don’t plan anything. If you sit there for an hour and nothing comes to mind, then at the very least you’ve granted yourself something important.
Face it, you’re not getting enough of it these days.
The pace of our lives is maddening. We fill every minute with stuff. We can’t stand in line without checking our phones or ride buses without reading a newspaper, and in doing so we lose a lot of time we could be using to rest our brains, replenish our thoughts, and have ideas.
Since you’ve made it through all of these words here’s a chance to get started now. Once you’ve finished reading this paragraph, step away from your desk or your computer and set a 5-minute timer. Don’t do anything at all during those five minutes. Just sit there and soak up the world. Take note of what happened.
You do not have to always be in motion to be successful as a maker, creator, or artist. Give yourself the space to cultivate ideas and step away from the world long enough to fill your mind with great ideas, so you can make great things.
Joey Phoenix is a performance artist and the Managing Editor of Creative North Shore. Follow them on Twitter @jphoenixmedia. If you have an idea for a story, feature, or pictures of adorable llamas, feel free to send them a message at firstname.lastname@example.org