Hey everyone! Remember me? It’s Kristen and I’m back and yes of course I missed all of you dearly. In this blog, I’ve always worked to be transparent with you guys so you knew it was okay to be human. Lately, I’ve been very very human as in seriously exhausted and burned out. Working is easy for me. Resting?
That requires an intervention.
Hey, I’m a work in progress too! 😛
I’m bad about having two speeds, GO and GO HARDER. Three years ago I pushed and pushed until I ended up with a nice case of Shingles that laid me out for months.
Yeah nothing to make a gal feel young and sexy like Shingles.
One would think I learned from that. Sigh. No *hangs head in shame* So I’ve been going going going for months. Launched a debut book, blogging, teaching then went to present at a week-long retreat…where I worked 10-12 hour days. I LOVE my work. Sitting alone in the woods in the quiet? When there are writers I can HELP??????
*snorts plotting like line of cocaine*
I love it a bit too much and so it never feels like work. Ergo, easy to overdo it.
To make matters worse, though the retreat catered to food allergies, either they screwed up or I did and I got glutened which means I was viciously ill when I returned home. I would have gone to an ER if euthanasia was an option. But it wasn’t.
Only time, lots of water and sleep would make it right…meaning I spent a week in bed. I would grow bored and instead of permitting it, my instincts were to immediately seek stimulation of some kind.
I’d get on-line, hop on Facebook and, of course, see stuff like this…
And then I of course would “be forced” to respond with, “Sure, because our ancestors ate THIS!”
*backs slowly away from computer* *returns to blanket fort* I didn’t need to give into my craving for stimulation. I didn’t need to get on Facebook and educate the world about food allergies. I was already exhausted and that was just draining away the tiny little reserves I’d managed to build by resting.
I didn’t need Instagram or Pinterest or Facebook or Candy Crush or an audio book or a movie. I needed rest, QUIET, and a serious attitude adjustment (which would probably come with some rest and quiet time).
I miss being a kid and having three months of vacation. Now THAT was unplugging.
Y’all remember summer vacation? It was all joy and fun and excitement for about a month and then you spent the next two months bored out of your skull? Of course usually, for me, those last two months were when I ended up in the most trouble because nothing will make you creative like being BORED.
This was when it seemed a good idea to see if I could walk along the tops of fences, up over rooftops and make it all the way down the block without ever having to touch ground. This was also when it seemed a good idea to convince my little brother he could jump off the roof with an umbrella and that he’d just float down like Penguin in Batman.
We spent weeks building, making up games, exploring and getting dirty, but all of that is gone now. Gone for me because I am an adult but also gone for the new generations.
We are a culture who values entertainment, but I’m going to posit some food for thought. Entertainment is not rest. It is not relaxation. It is also NOT a synonym for play (which is also important but a topic for another time). We are seriously overstimulated then wonder why we can’t seem to think straight.
There’s a lot to say about being bored and with the influx of social media and games and apps and streaming video, when was the last time anyone was really…bored?
As a kid isn’t that when we became our boldest? Like our regular friends weren’t available (probably grounded because they got caught three rooftops down) and so we had to reach beyond our comfort zone. Talk to that kid we didn’t know?
Before I went to the retreat I went to get my hair done (turn my gray back to blonde). Beauty shops when I was growing up were always hubs of chatter. Gossip, advice, laughter, talk, strangers becoming instant BFFs.
Now? It’s gone quiet.
If video killed the radio star then smartphones killed the beauty shop. Fifteen years ago, if forced to sit for 30 minute while my hair processed, I would have walked away with three new friends, dating advice and a couple recipes to try.
Now, it’s a wall of grown women staring at phones and tablets with white cords dangling from their ears. Short of razor wire and a KEEP OUT sign? Yeah. With all the stimulation, no “connections” can be made.
Hold onto that thought.
When I’m not working I’m still working. I read tons of books, listen to audio books, watch documentaries, movies, series and study, study, study to get better and better. Yet, though filling my mind with all this information is necessary and good, it does little good if I fail to get quiet.
And even get a little bored.
A good dose of quiet boredom (quiet) is magic for the imagination. There are many scientific benefits to being bored. It defrags the brain, helps us be able to discern the urgent from the important, lowers stress and cortisol levels (stress is bad juju for creativity, btw).
Our minds need quiet time to be able to think, to imagine, to create. To make connections. Think of all those juicy tidbits of trivia, conversations you’ve overheard, news headlines, stories, pictures, questions, documentaries, things you read. Now imagine they are all sitting together in a beauty shop and this beauty shop is between your ears.
Take away their Candy Crush, their email, their audio books and streaming news. Take out their ear buds and make them sit together in the silence. Give them nothing else to do and guess what? They’ll start talking, and gossiping, and sharing and….CONNECTING.
This is when the magic is gonna happen. This is when all those meaningless scraps are going to start coming together and assembling into order and then…into beauty. Lately, I’ve been putting my phone on Airplane Mode a lot. I don’t need the constant beeping and siren’s call to look at FB. Been making time to just lie in bed in the dark and be quiet even if for only 30 minutes. I even moved a couple classes (AHHHHHHH!) because I was exhausted and to give my best I need to be at my best.
Baby steps 🙂 .
So if you’re stuck, your writing is stuck, your muse is stuck? Maybe it’s time to let her get a bored 😉 .
What are your thoughts? Do you struggle with rest? Do you feel guilty? Is it hard to let yourself unplug? Hey I get it! What are some things you do to unplug? Hey I am all for suggestions!
Talk to me! And MAKE SURE to check out the classes below and sign up! Summer school! YAY!
Missed you Kristen. Glad you are back. You are so right when it comes to boredom. I blogged about this back in February. https://patriciamrobertson.com/2017/02/16/boredom-is-the-artists-tool/
Hope you continue to rest and allow yourself to be bored.
I’ve been telling my husband the exact same thing regarding our kids. All these gadgets and entertainment, and they don’t get outside, meet other kids, or make friends. We took a vacation to Amish country for a week and completely unplugged … including from writing (except to jot down notes in a tiny little paper notebook). The more I avoid social media and the television, the more the muse speaks. As for the kids … ehhh … maybe I’ll take a sledgehammer to their Androids?
I hear you on that one.
Thank you for this! And much rest and boredom to you.
Thank you for the post, Kristen! I’m glad you took the time you needed to recharge. I think you’re absolutely right; I feed myself on mental junk food a lot of the time and wonder why I don’t feel good! Anything, even things that are good for me, taken to extreme has the reverse effect. I love fresh fruit, for example, but too much of it and you know . . . bad things happen.
After a recent trip where wifi wasn’t available I left my phone and all my social media alone. I observed how often my mind turned to wonder who had emailed me or liked my most recent post. At first, it was two-three times an hour. By the end of two weeks it was once a day or less. Staying connected is important for many reasons. But balance and what I think of as a healthy detachment from devices in favor of real-life experience and true rest is critical to getting the most benefit from anything we choose to feed our minds. Thanks again for the reminder and for sharing your experiences. These things matter for us all!
Olly, Olly Oxen Free! ‘All ye, all ye, come in free.’ So it’s said.
OH how I relate! At 12, I began writing (fat lot of good that did me). Drinking iced coffee. Alone. Listening to Mozart. My folks wanted me to see a shrink. I mean, after the games of Olly, monopoly, I was bored, also. What does one do when wanting to write a romance (what did I know?) and study everything in Kenya (after reading Born Free)–and you don’t even want to know what I studied, but by age 14 I was an expert. No. Really.
I lay down when I have a total kill-me-now-migraine, and the ER docs seem to shy away from beheadings. I figure they can’t bill… My husband declines shooting me. What is their problem??
So resting is against my nature. I used to work 12 hr shifts (night), read abt 10 books a week, semi-drag behind into the house around 0730. Then I’d write for 4 hours… before I had to repeat, take care of child etc etc. That whole ‘life’ thing.
When I unplug it’s usually (PHTTP) on social media. LOLOL. At night, when I can’t sleep (you see a pattern, here?), I think of characters (perhaps that’s the cause of the insomnia, you think?)and scribble Great Ideas on paper in the dark. Funny, I never figured I knew Greek, apparently I do, at least as I scribble. In the AM all those Great Ideas are but mist.
Well, I agree. I need to unplug. Let my face go slack and my brain thinkin’ nothing. I’ll give it a whirl. All one needs to do is see my website to realize I’m overdone and insane..
I feel guilty when I try to have down time. I just sit and think of all of the things that I should be doing, and I can’t really relax. If you get some good tips, please share 🙂
Try handwork! Something simple and repetitive like knitting dishcloths or hemming tea-towels. It allows you to sit down and let your heart-rate slow right down, while still ticking the box that says “I am being productive and achieving something.”
Plus, according to Jane Austen, handwork (or “work” as she called it) facilitates the brooding your story needs to develop.
Moved to my father-in-laws, where we have no home internet access. In order to even blog, I have to get out of the house. Usually I walk at least a mile to the coffee shop on Main Street. I’ve struck up conversations with regulars, and had more ideas in a 20 minute walk leaving my phone in my pocket than in five hours of scrolling Facebook on my phone. In fact, I’m starting to simply put my phone on silent and leave it on the other side of the house from my office.
My latest bored venture saw me pulling out an old course book I found in the house called The Art of Public Speaking. Some of the biggest problems with my MC have resolved thanks to boredom. It truly is a gift, and one we often take for granted.
Welcome back! I hope you left the blanket fort intact — waiting for you. We all need a soft cave sometimes. :o) har har
This post is something I know too well and had to institute ‘rules’ for — my modus o is often listening to CNN, while working on a developmental edit, while playing with demand-o-dog. Jiggle the 3-4 things around for different times of the day.
When I want to create, the ‘rules’ go into force.
The ‘rules’ are: 1. Spend as much time in silence as I do exercising. (I tell my friends to do this, but must insert the word ‘meditate’ for silence) [to all exercise nuts: stop bragging about it, shut up & sit in silence for the same amount of time!]
2. Go outside – preferably past the front yard.
3. Find a spot to sit comfortably…stare until your mind escapes the stimulation prison and becomes seemingly ‘bored’ with staring…but keep staring.
Silence cannot be interrupted with ‘entertainment’ or other buzz-saw stimulation. Silence or staring cannot be abandoned until I am so bored that I’m creating my own thoughts instead of plugging in thought-crap from other sources.
My muse is so polite. I can be an idiot and run my mind into madness, and she will just hum, look at the sky, and wait for me to stop being a blithering idiot.
Glad you survived the gluten attack. Glad you’re back. Glad Cait visited. Glad no one had to lock you up…
Thanks for the great reminder! I was set up for June with three workshops to teach and two writing deadlines, plus of course the marketing of my latest releases… uh, no.
I felt like such a smarty pants when it occurred to me I had to make a change or find myself a rubber room for the month of July!
The workshops were booked and had to go on, (two of them were brand new for me so required more time than usual), but I contacted my editor and made changes to my deadlines. Moved both books to September instead of June 15 and 30.
Wow. Talk about feeling good. AND, the books are now writing themselves, so yay!
Glad to see you back. I, too, crashed this year, only it was mono and then pneumonia that got me. I too am a “driven” person. I like my job, and I love writing. During those weeks of quiet, I determined to change the way I tackle life, but I am finding, in a not so ideal world, it is a struggle to not slip back into overdrive. One of the things I’m trying to do was suggested by my mom. She said to take an hour each day and rest. I chose 4:00, sort of a transition between afternoon and dinner time. What I hoped to do with that hour was color, doodle, or embroider, and let my mind wander. So far though, I push so hard up to 4:00 I have little energy for more than reading (which I do enjoy immensely!) or pinning. But, every day is a new day to strive not to “run.” It’s good to know. It gives me hope.
I was always triple A type, worked in construction as a business owner and later in management. I did it for many years before becoming a writer.It was a total balls to the wall 14 hours a day profession. I was a gym rat and long distance runner,too on top of kids and a household to run. But I never had a problem relaxing. I was never bored. I’d run 13 miles without music, just me and my head. Even now when I watch TV I only ever see a small part of it because I never stop spinning stories inside my head. The ideas never quite coming. My character talk to each other, I hear them, ideas hammer me so I miss the TV show I’m watching. For me as a writer,there is no boredom.Everything that isn’t writing related is just an annoying distraction and if anything is boring it’s that. A writer must write. I wish I figured that out sooner. I don’t understand how a writer can ever feel bored, unless they remain engaged in the none writing world.
I am still working at my paying job, but also working at my first novel. I’m in the editing phase for 3 years, but still plugging away. Nearing retirement from the paying job in about 1 1/2 years. Taking care of my ailing husband. Needless to say I have the same problem you have. I no longer know how to relax. It has been almost 29 years with full steam ahead. I have to sky down or I won’t be of use to anyone.
I find that hand-quilting-piecing settles me down, but I do that in front of the TV, so still not getting away. Gardening or trying to garden (Not very good at it) tends to be something to assist in unplugging, but the weather (hot) limits that.
Meditation is something I am meaning to try. Good luck, and the classes you listed look interesting. May try one in my spare time.
Annie, the aspiring novelist
I’m glad you’re feeling better. Mental overload can be every bit as exhausting as hard physical work. I’m glad I read this post today. I’ve just set a goal to stop the mindless Internet surfing and cat-video watching and be more focused and intentional, even with my down time. We who fear boredom, tell ourselves that we are not hurting anything by constantly filling our minds with mostly unimportant drivel, but it isn’t true. We (I) have found it harder and harder to focus on what is important. Right now I’m reading a book called Focus, by Daniel Goleman and finding it helpful.
As much as I love reading your posts, yes, be sure to get plenty of rest! I totally sympathize on getting glutened. The family joke is that Mommy swallowed another zombie porcupine. He explores my innards saying, “Forget brains…must destroy guts.”
I’m fully convinced that creative boredom is how I got started writing novels at all. After over a year working on an IT Helpdesk (ugh), my creative side practically started shouting book ideas at me. 😉
Great blog, as always Kristen. I totally agree with you. We have become totally disconnected, and to keep our sanity (and creativity) need to unplug from everything, regularly. I get my best and most frequent ideas for stories, conversations between characters, etc, while I’m doing mundane jobs like the dishes (yes, I am one of those dinosaurs who actually still manually washes the dishes, or simply weeding the garden. The magic does happen when you clear the clutter and quiet the mind for long enough for those subconscious gems to crystallize. Hope you are feeling rested now. Take care. Teresa.
Hi Kristen, Welcome back! Missed your blogs…worried about you. As someone who is also gluten-adverse, I understand how you must have felt. When we love what we do, it’s easy to keep working. ?
Also, since I launched my book, I’m blogging 1x a week. I know you said 2-3x, but once is a stretch. The good news is every time I post, visits to my website increase as well as book sales. Thank you!
How do I link your website to mine?
So sorry about your shingles. Both my older sisters had them in the past year. I’m quaking in fear.
I just mentioned the other day that I never get bored. There’s always like three things I want to do. But I do enjoy unplugging from social media. And I like long drives by myself with only the music.
I believe there is scientific evidence that some early humans was gluten intolerant.
As a kid I never remember feeling bored through those summer months, I was always getting creative about something. Now it feels like I’ve got out of practice and don’t know what to do with a (rare and precious) few hours of nothingness.
As for gluten, my wife came to the conclusion that she’s become gluten intolerant since we moved from Britain. Just a process of elimination, and seeing clear correlations between eating certain foods (or not) and feeling ill (or not). Weird thing is, though, she visited family in Britain last year and spent three weeks merrily eating all sorts of gluten-laden foods without a problem. We figured it must be something to do with the (heavily modified) strains of wheat used this side of the pond.
My sister … how this post resonated with me! I’ve been a bit off the grid myself because of overwhelm, and to be honest, I have a love-hate relationship with social media. I’d much rather be reading a book for pleasure than getting sucked in to FB, but I also know that social media, blogging, etc. is now vital for business or author exposure. Thank you, though, for making a (hilarious and brilliant) statement about the complete disconnect in today’s world, despite the seeming constant connection. I always love your take on things, your humor, and your wisdom … keep writing, and keep rocking!! xoxo
Hope you’re feeling bored and a little bit healthier!
As for me, I have a sure fire way of getting mental rest – gardening. And no, it’s not just a gym in the fresh air. At the gym I /am/ bored. I to listen to music and read or I don’t last more than 5 minutes. In the garden, I’m doing strenuous physical exercise with a purpose [building rockeries and rock paths etc etc] but while all that’s happening, my brain does this weird zen thing and pretty much shuts down. I’m there, but I’m not. It’s great.
For those who hate gardening, I’d recommend any form of physical exercise that they love which doesn’t entail using technology of some sort. The key is to enjoy being physical. 🙂
I have gluten intolerance. I understand and am sending you hugs and prayers.
I live in a small Texas town. When I can, I walk my terrier enjoy the sounds of nature and always bring my camera. This is a time to unwind and push my ability to carry a 20 pound Cairn terrier halfway home.
Hope your feeling better!
I saw something like this in the newspaper a while back, but it was on walking. People either focus on exercising, like power walking, or listening to the iPhone (or both), or to get 10,000 steps, or to go somewhere. Not to simply walk.
Yet, in a crazy, chaotic job, I find it very important to do go out and do something like walking … just walking to resettle myself. Sometimes it’s fun to look at the houses, or at the turtles, or listen to the birds.
What a timely post. I’m always doing ‘something’ even if it’s just a quick game of Word Cookies. I can’t remember the last time I let myself get bored.
You’ve given me much to think about.
So glad you’re feeling better! I read your posts regularly, but I’ve never commented till now. Love your voice–and your ideas!
Welcome back. Hope you got enough R&R, but if not, we’ll let you do it again as needed. Shingles are Mother Nature’s way of saying “get over yourself and rest,” believe me, I know. You might have been just a tad of a slow learner with that one, from the sounds of it. Your guest blogger was great, but I missed your wonderfully snarky blogs.
With a 4 month old son, I schedule quiet time into my day. Meditative prayer works best for me.
Don’t get me started on those peeps with their eyes locked onto their screens. Self-absorbed while in a crowded room.
Call me a glutton, but I started a new Sci-Fi series for Camp NaNo:-)Squeezing it in with the editing as best as I can. Guess I enjoy the process all too much.
Welcome back! I missed you, and had faith you would return when ready.
Kristen, this is definitely one of my favorite posts you’ve written. I definitely think there are benefits to being bored, at least every once in a while. 😉 And I can totally relate to working ALL THE TIME and not resting enough… I certainly have a tendency to do that. I have a day job and I also have my writing, which is basically like a second (and so far unpaid!) job. So yes, reminding oneself to rest is definitely important.
This is so true! I remember feeling like this a few years back, when I was writing, and reading, and writing, and reading, and writing, and reading… you get the picture. Then, even while watching telly, I was deconstructing plot lines and analysing the writing behind the story. I needed a break, there were stories and plots and theories behind EVERYTHING; it was overload.
Four years down the line, and we’re all glued to our smartphones. I’m a digital marketer and a social media addict, as well as a writer. I have too many balls in the air. I’m hooked on that little notification flag and the twitter banter and the Instagram love and the Facebook conversations. And the only way I can think to save myself from this craziness is to set myself a schedule for connecting with people at certain times, not ALL the time. And we definitely need time to just stop. And stare. At nature; at nothing. At watching paint dry. Thank you for this post, I enjoyed reading it.
I enjoyed your blog on boredom and you always make me giggle, Kristen. I also don’t know when to stop and my brain drives me crazy, even when I’m supposed to be sleeping.
My way to defrag is to sit in a car, mostly because no one will try and talk to me there, and watch people on a crowded street. But I’m not sure it is defragging because I’m not bored. Sigh. New stories sprout in my head like weeds as little cameos play out in real life. In reality, I’m just doing character research–so who am I kidding? Guess I’m stuck with my overactive creative brain, not to mention the occasional prick in my side as shingles threaten to return.
Bored probably not the best word. Just let it wander off the leash 😉 .
I ‘cut the cord.’ not to the internet, but to all my major distractions.
The groups cut include:
1. all social media sites. These include from Yahoo-groups all the way to LinkedIn (the Adult Facebook), in addition to the usual suspects. I read widely, instead of doing what I should be doing, writing, or mowing the overgrown 50 acres.
2. all ‘artist’ sites. All types. I love to view the latest in innovations and love more to snort tea through my nostrils over the silly.
3. all Mail and RSS.
All of these are via ‘Cold Turkey.’ This is brutal program, requiring my best hacking to break in and look at the forbidden. Here is how I prioritize.
Category 1. Blocked from 0600 to 1200, my most productive time
Category 2. Blocked full time, all week. Until I get my rewrites done. It’s been three weeks, sigh.
Category 3. Currently unblocked, but I’m toying with blocking 0600 to 1200.
I’ll be putting up details on my blog, Matryoschka.com
I missed the sex scenes class – BUMMER. However, I have been succeeding in unplugging my kid in a massive way. Camping, building cool stuff our of cardboard boxes, going to the park…that’s how we have rolled this summer and she’s loving it. 🙂