what we're reading now
follow us on facebook
follow us on twitter
subscribe to our blog
find it

What We're Reading Now

Are You Bored? It Might Be a Good Thing.

16 August 2022

Barbara read How to be Creative by Matt Richtel and was reminded that tolerance for boredom allows new ideas to occur. She’s learning to endure some boredom while also creating enough structure and connection in her life to feel satisfied.

Tags: barbara read, creativity, matt richtel, turn your face

We have successfully moved from Charlotte to Charlottesville, almost everything is unpacked, and some healthy, repetitive routines have been established. My daughter Allison can help me with taking care of her Daddy and the three of us can enjoy some fun together more often rather than waiting so many months in between visits. My gratitude about this move brings me peace and joy every day, but now, I need to think about how I want ordinary days to go. To feel content, I must create enough structure in my life to have things to look forward to, connect with enough people to keep loneliness at bay, and create something that matters to me—a written piece or progress on a painting or a quilt. 

Creating something in writing is my favorite kind of creativity. I appreciated hearing from one of Allison’s clients this week that my book, Turn Your Face: How to Be Heard and Get What You Want, was helping him to make some important life decisions. When I wrote that book, I wasn’t sure if anyone would find it to be useful. I feel the same way about the memoir I’m working on now, but his lovely compliment was just the encouragement I needed to keep writing this morning.

I also needed some other inspiration to spur my creativity as August is always a difficult month for me while I wait for the cooler, less humid fall days and the routines of classes (my own and everyone else’s) to return.

When I'm stuck, I always need refresher reminders on how to be creative, so I Googled creativity and The New York Times and as usual found some great advice. Matt Richtel's article, How to Be Creative, is long but worth the read. Here are the things he recommended that were most helpful to me.

  • “First, Give permission. Tapping into your thoughts, dreams and imaginations is the first step to finding your inner creativity."
  • “Be audacious.” Think that what you are writing the world needs to hear.
  • “Creative Parenting.” Ask “What if” questions to your children and yourself and don’t squelch wild ideas. Consider them even if they seem impossible. (Perhaps one day you’ll figure out how to get to outer space through the flushing of a toilet!)
  • “Be imperfect.” Don’t edit or say why something won’t work as soon as you think it.
  • “Take a nap.” Or at least get away from your devices. "...'smart’ phones have become our deepest soul mates, like our digital siamese twins, attached at the brain. They constantly stimulate, but, research shows, they can overstimulate if not kept in their place. ‘Bring back boredom,’ says Dr. Michael Rich, director for the Center for Media and Child Health in Boston. ‘Downtime is to the brain what sleep is to the body.’”

I strongly agreed with his advice about boredom and then in the next breath, I realized I have always struggled with this concept. I've watched my husband and daughter restore themselves and come up with new ideas by napping and have always been jealous. I can only tolerate boredom if I have enough structure and connection in my life to feel centered. A fulltime job used to give me that structure but in retirement and as a caregiver, I’ve had to create my own structure if I want to find the will to keep working on my next book.

I need a class. I dreaded going back to school as much as the next young person as long as I was in elementary school, high school, and college. Then I taught high-school English for four years before I had my daughter Allison. She was born in November and the next Fall was the first time I had not gone back to school, and I was shocked to discover that I missed it. I finally realized I need a syllabus in September. I didn’t solve that longing until she was five and her brother was two when I started graduate school at University of North Carolina at Charlotte by taking one course a semester for five years to get a Masters in English.

To add structure to my new life here in Charlottesville, I’ve continued a Zoom meditation class on Mondays and Wednesdays at Myers Park Baptist Church in Charlotte throughout the summer. At the encouragement of a Charlottesville friend, I immediately joined The Center at Belvedere and am signed up for a landscape oil painting class that starts in September. They have many other opportunities that I will explore. My writing class with Maureen Ryan Griffin will resume next month.

I’m an Introvert as described in Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) literature, and I’ve have always craved alone time. During the pandemic, I found I could have too much of it. I have friends from Charlotte that I have continued to talk to on the phone—sometimes for two hours. If I’m feeling lonely, I’ll text one of them to see if now or soon is a good time to talk. I get to talk to my daughter, son, granddaughter, and daughter-in-law and have begun regular meeting times with two new friends in Charlottesville. I am drained by large groups, but I do need connection with individuals and small groups.

With structure and connection in place, I’m hopeful I can tap into the power of boredom with more patience and let it fuel my creativity. It’s an experiment I’m excited to try.


Our Comment Policy:

Our blog posts are only half of the conversation. What our readers have to say is equally important to us, and we're grateful for all the comments that continue the dialog.

To ensure that the discussion here is as useful as possible to all of our readers, please be respectful of our contributors and refrain from harassing, threatening and/or vulgar language. We reserve the right to screen and remove any comments from the site. If you have a question about a comment or want to discuss our policy, please contact us. We'll talk it over.

There are no comments for this entry yet.


Leave a comment



Notify me of follow-up comments?

Enter the characters you see below:

« Return to What We're Reading Now