Not sure about you, but I arrived at boredom having been affected by ‘Writers Block’. The words were struggling to manifest themselves, made worse by an inability to convert the imaginative ideas I do have into a visible written form that make sense to others. Dyslexia can be unforgiving like that.
So what do you do when you are struggling to get the results you want? Bury your head in the sand and hope the problem goes away? Go for a jog, ‘stick kettle on’ or take a break and eat another biscuit? Or do you share your frustration with the world #NoNewThoughts?
Instead, I came here and turned to the internet looking for answers. Ever hopeful. The answer has got to be here somewhere…
A simple search revealed all sorts of schemes that work for beating writers block and promising a start to squeeze out those elusive creative juices. A second search showed up a variety of tools and strategies to overcome grammar, spelling and school related difficulties too. In short… advice and information is not what I lack.
There is no shortage of hint-related material at my finger tips; most of it sound common sense. Yet nothing seems to make a difference. Therefore, what I want to know is… how do I turn sensible advice into good habits that can make the difference to me? Ok laugh if you like, but I did another search and the internet provided a comprehensive answer to this one too! But converting it into results? … give me a break will you! You know, all I really want is to be, to have and to do… just like all those who have written the advice. It’s all up there in the cloud yet, depressingly, just ‘wanting’ those things doesn’t make any of it come and be a reality. Taking an idea and making it work is an entirely different ball game isn’t it?
Tinker Bell had pixie dust to make Wendy fly, but for us mere mortals, with our feet firmly on the ground, what DOES make the difference? Because that’s what I want; a shed-load of what must feel like real magic…
‘I’m bored’. Shush… don’t read it out too loud in your head because I’m not really supposed to confess to being so. My mother hated the expression and would even clip me round the ear if I let slip that this was how I felt. In fact I learned not to ‘be bored’ because otherwise I’d find myself doing something I’d rather not be doing, like ‘Go and tidy your room’. And now being the adult who does much of the mind numbing chores that make ‘being bored’ feel more like a unaffordable luxury, I can appreciate why she sounded a bit put out. But that was yesterday and it still doesn’t change how I feel today. Which is why I turned to the internet for answers, just like you most likely did, having arrived here at this blog post.
‘I’m not lazy and I don’t have to feel guilty’ are the personal mantras that help me cross the line from thinking I’m a bad person to one who can simply sit back and be bored… which I am dealing with by surfing around the world’s internet collective mind. I just let myself go anywhere that my curiosity takes me. I enjoy seeing where and on what my attention happens to land. I’m interested in the words and as I read them I enjoy listening to the thoughts that arise in my head as a result. However I do have to remind myself that, in this time and space, I don’t have to understand or remember everything that I hear, see or read. This way I can relax and let go of any expectation that I have to perform as well as anyone else. It saves me from the personal flogging I used to give myself for failing to retrieve those facts that I think I ought to be able to… having read all about them earlier….
Today’s little internet journey began with a scrap a paper I came across whilst dusting. I do this… write odd words on bits of paper and leave them lying around. It’s a coping mechanism. If I write it down I think I’ll have half a chance of remembering it. It makes me feel better. I work my way through the week picking up words. If they feel important I write them down. I suppose to those in the profession, this is my equivalent to keeping a writers journal. But for me who straddles worlds it is far less organised or intentional, to an outsider it is rubbish left littering horizontal surfaces, to me its something I might on occasion come back to. This one I did. I used it as a prompt to get me started today.
“We never do anything well till we cease to think about the manner of doing it.”
My boredom-buster process thus is set in motion, with scrap of paper in one hand I re-read the phrase back over. The words come to life in my head as my eyes scan over them, whilst the fingers on my other hand follow a silent instruction and begin typing the phrase into the search engine. Even before they have finished typing my head is asking and working out questions and answers of it’s own. It’s happily running its own search in parallel to Google’s, but in this case through the archives of my memory. It’s looking for an example from the past which appears to mirror what ‘ceasing to think’ might look and feel like. It finds an image. I confess my ego wants to believe that it’s ‘writing’, but it also has doubts. Attention rapidly splits again, trying to confirm if ‘writing’ does indeed qualify; computing this judgement by looking at the results I have had to date. It compares my results, book sales in particular, with those of others. Unfortunately for me it picks on JK Rowling, who has sold 400 million copies… verses Jayne Franks… err… let me count…. OK not quite so many 🙂
This is somewhere I don’t want to go…. self–defeating self–talk… and recognising it as such I deliberately pull my attention around and ask a better question:
“At the times I believe I have written well was the work produced out of a state when I ceased thinking?’
That’s the answer my ego wants to believe, because that would evaluate what I write as being something of substance and therefore likely to be judged as ‘good’. I ignore this response… its too heavily biased to be trusted completely and before I let the thought go I make one more observation – ‘You do cease to think about your surrounding, the passage of time, and fail to hear the phone ringing’. Is that what it means by the phrase ‘to cease thinking’? But a pessimistic voice replies:
“No.. the number of sales to date could be construed that ‘the work’ you produce can’t be ‘too well’ after all.”
At this I could have let myself again be distracted with more negative thinking. Being bored has a tendency to encourage this sort of downward spiral, but instead I chose to find out who William Hazlitt was. Wiki revealed that he was a Londoner, born in 1778; a chap who managed to make a living selling his ideas and thoughts. I’ve learnt that although his work is read little, much of it now out of print, amusingly he has been recently described as the original blogger. This title was awarded as his latter work often tended to balk at convention and be written in a much more personal style, describing his own experiences on topics at the time considered beneath cultured society, such as his colourful description of a fist fight. He evidently found his niche and attracted attention by daring to be different; stepping outside of the safety that comes from sticking with convention.
This reminded me of a recent programme I’d started to watch earlier in the week but hadn’t finished: BBC1 “Imagine”. It’s available on catch-up for a couple of weeks from now if anyone is interested. It was a documentary covering ‘outsider art’, naïve art or Art Brut. This is the term used to define art which is generated by persons who are marginalised by society due to mental health and/or disability. To qualify as an ‘outsider’ your work is of an appreciable standard, despite you having had no formal training. It’s this lack of influence that makes the work completely novel, as it falls outside of modern cultural conventions. A freedom from self censorship, without a desire to make money or achieve fame, creates some wonderful and fascinating pieces. Again, if you’re interested here are some of the more famous names worth looking up : Madge Gill, Carlo Zinelli and Adolf Wölfli. More names were covered in the programme if I have whetted your appetite.
An interesting insight came to me as I finally caught up with myself and finished watching the programme. Maybe William Hazlitt was right: thinking can get in the way of doing something well. I guess I am like a lot of people who want to be ‘normal’ and to feel good with themselves by ‘fitting in’. To this end I stick to behaviours that I was told as a kid worked well, including more that I have since learnt and practiced and which I think serve my interests. Logic tells me that this reduces my chances of feeling awkward, out of my depth or the butt of everyone’s jokes. However I am beginning to appreciate that ‘ceasing to think’ might well be an effective strategy to do something ‘well’. It feels like there is some merit in taming the desire and thought to be like others.
Am I not right that not one of us, when we do our internet searches, really want to keep opening pages and dropping down menus to read more of the same information, that might have been expressed slightly differently, but is essential saying more of the same…? This is what I have been guilty of I guess. Wouldn’t it be more helpful, rather than finding ourselves being bored by having to wade through more of the same, if we were able to quickly identify that precious snippet… that nugget of information that would make us take notice and react positively? A search that would find the magic that translates words into meaningful action…
- I could fare just as well if I learnt and practiced being a little more robust and stopped worrying about what I think others are thinking.
- Our potential to succeed could well be found in the very parts of our nature that actually make us different from everyone else.
- The resources needed to make the difference may well remain inaccessible if we choose to hide and/or over-compensate for those differences.
- Boredom is not necessarily a bad thing … especially if the time lost in it opens up a whole new way of life.