Making Space For Creativity

Mike napping on the couch

Do not disturb. Creativity in progress. (Photo credit: fireflythegreat)

Ever wonder why you always get your best ideas in the shower?* Or right when you’re about to fall asleep? I used to think it was just my brain being a dick—here, have a wonderful idea at a time when it’s completely useless, and, while we’re at it, fuck you—but then I read a couple of articles like this. And this.

For those of you who couldn’t be arsed to click through, those links lead to articles about the importance of relaxation and boredom for creativity. Which makes sense: it’s very hard to hear any kind of inner voice in the midst of all the noise we surround ourselves with. We’re constantly distracted by the sheer volume of other shit going on. In other words, if you want the ideas and the inspiration, you’ve got to make room for them. Like vampires, they only go where they’re invited.

You have to leave space for creativity. We have this thing—at least I do—about scheduling every last minute of the day. If we’re not doing something, and something that we deem worthwhile at that, then we feel that time has been wasted. We have to be working, exercising, socializing, something. Even low-key activities like reading tend to fall lower on that scale, and we feel guilty ‘wasting’ time on them.  And if we’re not doing that shit, then you can be damn sure we’re stuck in front of our computers or smartphones, obsessively checking every twitch and fart of the Internet.

We need to reintroduce boredom to the mental ecosystem. Not real boredom, where you’re genuinely at a loss for what to do. Just the lull in activity that makes you think, makes you go inside your head and find something to do. We need the space to do nothing.

So, give it a try. Turn off your wireless connection, put away the phone, get away from the TV, and stop checking in on Twitter every eight seconds. Trust me, it’ll all continue without you. Just sit and listen to the silence for a while.

And see what turns up.

(For those of you keeping score at home, there are two new rejection letters to add to my 2013 total. Thanks for playing, Tesseracts 17 and Sword and Mythos! This brings the yearly count up to three, for three different stories. Uh…go, me?)

*Point of fact: I tend to think of my best ideas doing random shit like brushing my teeth. But I understand that the shower thing is more common, so let’s go with that.


5 thoughts on “Making Space For Creativity

  1. Very interesting =) I get anxious whenever I don’t make the most use of my time. This has gone to the extent that if I watch a series I knit while watching to be productive even then. Maybe with this tidbit of knowledge I can relax a bit more!

    • I also tend to do things while watching TV (knitting or sketching), but that’s less because I want to be productive and more because I find it hard to focus without something to do with my hands. Keep ’em still, and five minutes later I’ve lost the plot because I wasn’t paying attention. However, that does point to some kind of creative thought process at work, so maybe I should try it more.

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