I’ve had a hard time writing lately. Partly I have struggled making the time to write. More than that though, I think I have been lacking the motivation to write. There was a time when an idea for a blog would pop into my head and I just couldn’t wait to sit down in front of my computer and get the idea out of my head and into words. I would burst with excitement as I frantically typed away and could hardly contain myself as I prepared to share it with the world (or at least with my Facebook friends).
Lately it seems like every couple of weeks I would think, “Gee, I haven’t posted anything on my blog in a while,” and then I would spend an hour or so trying to articulate a half baked idea that I struggled to piece together. Most of the time, I was relatively happy with what I wrote, and I’m glad that I at least wrote something. But the enthusiasm and excitement was missing. It felt more like a chore to come up with something to write about instead of the sheer joy that came with sharing something that I was really psyched about.
What changed? Did I lose my knack for writing? Did I lose my passion for sharing thoughts, ideas, and stories? I don’t think so. I still get those bursts of energy and life tingling through my body when I read something that really captivates me or discover something that I can’t wait to share. I still find joy in it, it just seemed to be happening less often. I’m still trying to figure out exactly what has been going on, but I (finally) have an idea: I have been depriving myself of time to think. I have been starving my creativity, and it has been wasting away like an arm left in a cast for too long.
It seems as if over the last couple of months I have slowly eliminated all of the still, quiet moments that served as time to think, opportunities for my soul to rest and breathe. I managed to go through each and every day without once being bored, because I was always feeding myself some kind of stimulation. My guess is that you can probably relate. Think about it:
Boredom fosters creativity. It allows our minds to wander. It gives us time to think, to ponder, to question, to invent, to problem solve. But in today’s affluent culture, we don’t ever have to be bored. We can listen to podcasts while we cook, clean, shower, drive, walk, run (all of which are activities known to produce great ideas). If we show up early to an appointment, no problem, we can catch up on the 20 minutes of social media that we missed since the last time we checked it. Nothing to do on a Friday night? No problem, Netflix has more shows and movies than you could consume in a lifetime (not a proven fact but probably true). Walking from the car to the grocery store is a great chance to text back all of your friends. Is there a long line at the coffee shop? No problem, because you have a long list of articles you need to read. No boredom there!
In the past week, part of my job has included “brainstorming” and I was blown away by how difficult this was for me. I grew restless quickly and my brainstorming was interrupted by incessantly checking my email. It was a frightening revelation of the fact that, to a certain extent, I had forgotten how to think! Through months of neglecting my creative muscle and experiencing constant mental stimulation, my creativity was lacking, my writing was struggling, and my ability to brainstorm was essentially nonexistent.
Now, this isn’t exactly my confession as a smart phone addict or a social media junkie. I have tried to be intentional in my use of these things and the role that they play in my life. I typically avoid pulling out my phone when I am with other people and I try to limit the amount of time I spend on social sites. I of course don’t do this perfectly, but it would be inaccurate to say that a smart phone addiction is the reason for my struggles writing. I just haven’t given myself the time or space to think, to be bored, to be creative.
Rather than being a person floating aimlessly from stimulation to stimulation, I want to be proactive about creating opportunities to think and create. I run for the silence it affords me. I aim to seek out that same silence through all of the still, small moments of my day. Throughout the next couple of months I will be exploring different ways to create silence, boredom, and opportunities for thoughtfulness in my daily life. I can’t wait to share my experiences with you. I can already feel a little tinge of energy and excitement welling up inside. I hope that it finds its way into words soon and often.