How to use Boredom

Recently I was on a bike trip through northern Illinois. We rode our bikes for 60 miles or so through countryside that was pretty but not breathtaking and, yes, occasionally I felt a little bored. Being bored used to be common. When I was a kid, there were no opportunities to while away the hours of a long car journey with anything other then looking out the window, listening to your parents talk, fighting with your sisters or reading a book. Reading books in cars can be tricky because you can get carsick and if your parents are anything like mine, they didn't believe in stopping unless the situation was life threatening. So, what did you do? You looked at stuff, houses, animals, other cars, people on the street,  signs and your mind jumped from the past to the present to the future allowing a certain amount of creativity and imagination to help you make connections.

For example, we once drove through the French countryside when I was eleven and I was lying down in the back-no air conditioning+sweaty larger sisters=gross.  I was watching as the trees went by over my head and thinking about how brief things were, my childhood, this moment, the trip with my family. While I was only eleven, my oldest sister was seventeen and would soon leave for college. Also, I was getting ready to return to America after living abroad in London for a year and I was scared. The back window was open and I did something terrible. I held one of my mother's silk scarves in the wind and then let it go. It was totally cool to see it disapear as we sped away but my mother didn't see it that way. I'm not sure what made me do that but can you see how rich with possibility this memory could be? The essay might start at the moment the scarf disappeared and I realized how important it was to let things go or maybe a certain recklesness in myself that was also something I liked even though it really made my mother question her decision to have a third child. The way the silk shimmered in the sunlight was gorgeous and real and would be a nice detail.

Now, you can't be boring. Your writing should hook the reader, pull them in, make it impossible for him/her to stop writing. But being bored might offer some rewards in terms of your memory and imagination. Being bored allows you to access parts of your brain that are usually occupied by that I-Pad or the phone or the TV or maybe talking to your friends, So, how to create boring situations? Travelling is a good one. Many times we are forced to wait in airports. Don't use an electronic device, walk around, observe what people are doing and then maybe just sit and watch the planes take off. Try to hang out with a kid who can't read and isn't sitting slack-jawed in front of a computer screen. Evesdrop, ask the person who sells you your gum about the strangest thing they've ever witnessed in the terminal. Meditate.

Swimming laps, the elliptical, running, the aforementioned biking are all good physical exercises that are also pretty boring over long stretches. See what comes up. Pay attention to the amazing resources you have in your brain. Lying on a beach (use sunscreen) on your tummy, digging holes in the sand as you doze, great moment. Try and unplug weekly and allow yourself to get a little bored. Use your journal and write down your thoughts. Don't judge or edit. Put it away and go amuse yourself again.

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How to use Boredom | Pitch Perfect Writing

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How to use Boredom | Pitch Perfect Writing

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