Photo by Vincent van Zalinge on Unsplash
I keep reading/seeing/listening to things that make me think I need more boredom in my life. I need to loiter, more. I need less distraction.
This seems like an odd thing to recognize now, during a global pandemic when I’m socially distancing myself from others. When I’m not able to do many of the fun things I love, like traveling, or meeting friends for happy hour, or going to concerts.
Weirdly, because I’m spending so much time at home alone, I’m not dwelling on how bored I am. Instead, I’m realizing how much time I spend on distractions.
I wrote my first novel, Tempest Rising, when I was bored as fuck. My PhD. was completed and my viva passed, but I wasn’t going to graduate for months. School was out of session, so I wasn’t teaching undergrads. I had been hired for my first job in the spring, but I didn’t have to start until fall. My partner worked like eleventy-seven jobs, and my friends were either in classes or writing their dissertations. I had literally nothing to do for 2 months, for the first time in years.
And so I took that little germ of an idea I’d gotten on my flight home from my job interviews, and I used it to write my first novel. Looking back, I think part of the reason I was successful was that I really had nothing better to do. I had zero distractions. So I wrote, because why the hell not?
Right now, the semester has ended. I do have school work to do, but very little in comparison to the normal term. Because of social isolation, I should be bored, even with my exercise and self-care routines.
And I welcome boredom! I know how to deal with boredom. When I’m bored, I challenge myself to read big novels, watch interesting movies, practice languages. Even write books!
Or, I used to do these things. Now? I scroll. Instagram leads to TikTok which leads back to Instagram which leads to nineteen linked articles on fashion or something I’m only a little bit interested in which leads to scrolling through websites selling things I don’t want to buy which leads back to TikTok…
I am no longer bored. I’m no longer loitering in my life, looking around for something meaningful to catch my attention. I’m too distracted.
So I’m doing an experiment. I’ve taken Instagram and TikTok off my phone for this week. I’m going to see how it goes. And if I feel a difference, if I feel good about it, I’m going to take a summer hiatus from social media so I can loiter in my life. So I can get bored and fill my time with big books. With writing. With quality content. Not farmers in Australia yelling at llamas, which, for some reason, I can watch for hours.
I get so much done when I’m bored, rather than distracted.
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