Boredom and Creativity
by Rowena Cory Daniells
According to this article in Scientific American people who are easily bored are more likely to take part in risky behaviour. I’m not that type. Back when I had my bookshop, boredom led me to try new authors. Nowadays, boredom leads me to surf the net reading science blogs and researching obscure details for my books. (yes, I’m that exciting).
As a kid in school I would read all my text books the week before school began, thendaydreammy way through school because I was bored. Since I was reading Dickens and Norse sagas in primary school, the stories in my head were much more interesting than what was happening in the classroom.
But I lacked visual stimuli. I lived in a small coastal town that consisted of fibro houses and gum trees. And I couldn’t escape through television as it was black and white in those days, and incredibly bland. There were only a couple of stations and they would replay the same episodes of US shows like Gilligan’s Island over and over.
Except for me, Gilligan’s island looked like this:
Which is a lot less interesting.
Did they ever escape from the island? I didn’t know but I read Coral Island, Robinson Crusoe and the Swiss Family Robinson. I was fascinated by the challenge of surviving using what was available on the island and what had washed in from the shipwreck, consequently I spent a lot of my childhood daydreamingabout surviving on a coral island. Then I read Lord of the Flies. Sigh… (I really felt for Piggy).
The only way I could travel and see amazing things was by going through old copies of National Geographic. So I ‘saw’ the world in those high coloured 1950s photos.
There’s nothing wrong with daydreaming. According to this article in New Scientist, daydreams can help you stumble across ideas. As a writer, I find plot holes and plot challenges are resolved by my subconscious when I’m doing other things. This is very useful because it means any mundane task can serve a higher purpose. Mowing the grass for instance, is physical yet repetitive enough for my mind to wander and make connections.
My tendency to daydream is so strong, I once found myself at home with no memory of closing up my bookshop. I didn’t have a car so I had to walk a couple of kilometres back to the shop to make sure I had actually emptied the till and locked the shop. (I had). At the time I wasn’t worried by this but now that I look back it was a bit weird.
There are so many half-written stories in my head that I am never bored. If I find myself trapped in a queue or waiting for a doctor, I slip into the world of the current book I’m writing and catch up with the characters.
So embrace your daydreams and allow boredom to drive you to seek out stimulation. (See here on New Scientist Eight ways to boost creativity).
What do you do when you’re bored?
About the Series
Rowena’s King Rolen’s Kin series is being re-released to launch the Solaris Classics line with lovely upgraded covers. The four books come out a month apart, The King’s Bastard is already out. As a bonus, the e-book novella, The King’s Man, has been printed in the back of book two, The Uncrowned King. (This is what Beauty in Ruins thought of book one).