Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Boredom Can be a Good Thing for Writers!

I read a Harlen Coben novel over the past weekend and there was a passage in it that rang true for me. In fact, I thought, “At last, someone else has put it into words.”

The idea is that for at least some creative types a lack of stimulation is a good thing. The brain settles down and then the thoughts and ideas raise to the surface and insist on attention.

I gave up having a television about three years ago. It has been the best thing I’ve ever done for my writing. The hours that were spent in mindless entertainment over the years are ones I’ll never get back. It’s not until the quiet seeps in that I find my muse. I still curl up with a book, sometimes for a full day, but when I close it I’m ready to continue with words – this time the writing of them.

I just watched the film “The Diving Bell and The Butterfly”, a true story of the 42-year-old editor of Elle magazine who has a stroke and is paralyzed except for the ability to control one eye. A therapist devises a way for him to communicate using blinks and he then proceeds to write a book about his experience. Yes, he wrote a book with just the use of one eye. Amazing.

However, part of the will to complete a project like that came from being trapped inside himself, alone with his thoughts. That’s actually the same state, only mentally, of course, that I’m talking about here. The activity of the brain is heightened because it’s the only thing going on.

Stimulation is not a bad thing. It is the womb of ideas. However, often an artist doesn’t have any lack of ideas, rather the will and strength to focus on one long enough to see it to fruition. Allowing a sense of restless boredom in can be just the thing to kick start a writing spree. At least for me.

And I was so happy to have Harlen agree!


  1. I call it my gathering times. As a writer, we can't always write. We need down time to come up with ideas! Thus, the name gathering time. Great post.

  2. Time to dream, and ponder. Time ot spin thoughts. Too much to do is deadly for writing.
    Love Harlen C. He's the bomb.