Don't fill the void - Deepstash

Don't fill the void

Our first instinct when we experience some boredom is to fill it with Netflix lists, Instagram feeds, and TikTok videos. Riding out this boredom is vital though.

Boredom is not in itself creative. It's what it leads to that is significant. In the gap of boredom, you're motivated to look for something else, and there's a real chance you'll discover something new.

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Boredom sparks creativity

Boredom is one of the most important factors in creativity. Boredom is a productive state as long as you don't let it get to you.

Agatha Christie said there is nothing like boredom to make you write. Neil Gaiman advises aspiring writers to let themselves get so bored that the mind has nothing better to do than tell itself a story.

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When we're bored, two key things are happening in our minds: One is a 'desire bind' where someone wants to do something but not anything that's on offer. The other is when your mind is itching to be engaged.

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Boredom triggers daydreaming, and that leads to creativity. In essence, boredom is not the state that is really good for the creative process. It's doing something familiar with a kind of diffused focus that allows your mind to wander.

  • Choreographer George Balanchine said he did his best work while ironing in the morning.
  • Writer Doris Lessing often took breaks from work to tidy the house or wash dishes. This aimlessness was vital to help her create her ideas.
  • Margaret Atwood found this state from birdwatching.
  • Many creatives also cite walking as being vital to their process.

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Boredom: Our Old Friend

In most of the ancient literature and philosophy, boredom is considered a personal, social and moral weakness.

Philosophers talk about boredom as proof that life is essentially meaningless, and that boredom hovers around any secure life like a shadow.

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Boredom

Boredom is not characterised by the absence of desire. It involves desperately wanting to do something, but not finding anything that can satisfy that restlessness.

When you're bored, whatever you are busy with now seems unfulfilling in some way. You may be unfulfilled by the daily repetitive work that never changes. Boredom is prodding you to explore better options for becoming engaged.

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Why digital detox is good for creative thinking

According to many brain imaging studies, when feeling bored, the DMN areas of our brain are activated.

Increased DMN activity helps to boost the formation of new ideas through linking lines of existing information - one of the important ingredients of creative thinking.

But when we actively try to avoid boredom with distractions and stimulations like a quick scroll through Instagram or completing a level of Candy Crush, we are actually wasting those creative moments in reactive action.

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