Boredom and Creativity

In Krista Tippet’s On Being interview with neuropsychologit Rex Jung, titled Creativity and the Everyday Brain, she asks a question about free time that includes this statement:

It’s something that’s, to me, proven true in life, that there’s a connection between boredom and creativity, or between not having things given to you to do….

It’s a popular idea, I think, that we need boredom to be creative. That creativity requires a lack of structure.

I don’t buy it.

Consider Alice Parker, who has written thousands of creative works, every one on commission, during her long career composing and arranging.

Consider Charles Dickens, who wrote exceedingly creative novels, novellas short stories, journalism, and more – all on commission and incredibly prolific.

Consider Isaac Newton, who during his “Annus Mirabilis” (1666) made his significant discoveries in calculus, gravity, optics, and the laws of motion. Think he was bored? Me neither. He was working nonstop.

Rex Jung states in the interview that creativity comes from a relaxation of some parts of the brain to allow for different ideas to interact. And certainly that can come about when you’re bored. But you can also train your brain to enter this relaxedness.

I remember being bored. But it’s been so long, I don’t remember what it feels like.

To be creative, you don’t need boredom. Relaxing your brain and playing with various ideas is the key. Teach yourself to enter this state and you can remain creative whenever you need to, not simply when the “mood strikes” or when the world around you stops.