Douglas Adams once described it as “the long, dark teatime of the soul”. Medieval clergy called it ‘accidie’ and thought of it as one of the precursors to the mortal sin of sloth. Most of us just call it boredom. However, the stigma around it still stands. Many people see boredom as a curse – something to be avoided. To them, boredom is something to be avoided. Instead of being bored, we should be doing things that fill our time and occupy our minds.
Of course, in the last decade, any number of things have been brought about to relieve us from boredom. Each of these things demands a share of our increasingly divided attention. as well as social media with its unceasing demands for updates, likes and reads, there is mobile gaming – designed to separate us from our money as much as from our limited time. Streaming services and on-demand video channels try to tempt us to them with their latest ‘must-see’ offerings. News channels bombard us 24/7 with the latest developments in politics, fashion and trivia, and invite us to share our reactions – now! And, as if that wasn’t enough, there are those who try to fill the physical world with toys to distract us. Boredom is a terrible thing!
But what did we do before there were all these things to distract us from the tedium of life? The answer is simple. We got bored. And when we got bored, we got creative! As children, we would make up games with incomprehensible rules, or we would create worlds to inhabit and populate with our imaginations. We would explore the things around us, satisfying our curiosity and learning (sometimes salutary) lessons about life.
As writers, we should be harnessing this creative energy. Yes, we can always find something to distract us and fill in time, but that is time that we could be spending doing something creative. Even if we are not writing, we can be thinking, planning and plotting – not just idling the hours away in some fruitless twiddling of our thumbs.
So, the next time that you are feeling bored, don’t reach for the television remote or your mobile phone. Grab a pen, take some paper and use the time that you have been given.
Embrace your boredom!
(Editor’s note: I’ve always thought there was something significant about the fact that the German phrase for “I’m bored,” Ich langweile mich, literally translates as “I bore myself.”)
OMP Admin Note: John Nedwill is a writer, OMP Network member, and a regular #OneMillionProject Blogger. His work can be found on Wattpad.com and in the One Million Project’s Short Story Anthologies published in February 2018.
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