Roses waft sweet scents around you as they burst forth in their final blooms of the year. The garden swing creeks softly as the ropes rub the thick oak branch above you. Sunshine dances over the lawn. The last birdsongs of fall reach your ears, and you lean your head against the scratchy ropes beneath your hands to lose yourself in dreams. Daydreams.
When did you last take the time to notice the roses and the bird songs? To just sit there and soak up the beauty around you? Has it been even longer since you daydreamed?
Time to do nothing other than savor the moment, looking about you before losing yourself in imaginings isn’t a luxury. It is a necessity if you want to live a full, creative life! Why? Read on!
1). It Will Rest Your Brain
The brain is a muscle. When (and if) you go to the gym, you give your body a rest afterwards. At the end of everyday you sleep, resting your body (and brain, too). You wouldn’t think about skipping a night’s sleep (especially now that you are out of college and never want to pull another all-nighter again!), and you shouldn’t skip giving you brain a rest either. Have you noticed how much more alive you are after sleep (and probably coffee, too) in the morning? How the ideas flow? You are ready to take on the day and all it has to bring! And this is just because of the physical and mental rest that sleeps gave you. When you also take time during the day to consciously do nothing, you brain will get a much needed reprieve so that it has the energy to be creative.
2). You Will Reduce Stress
If you are anything like me, you hop from one thing to the next, doing your utmost to speed through your to-do list so that you can have the accomplished, delightful sensation that comes from seeing all of those beautiful little check marks. When you are constantly in motion (whether that is your body constantly in motion or just your brain rapid firing), you can become overloaded. In fact, you will become overloaded. You know the feeling. Burnt out, stressed out, your mind jumping from one thing to the next so quickly you can’t concentrate. (You can also feel this way if you drink too many shots of espresso in the morning. I should know. We have a lovely home espresso maker…) This is not a state in which you can be creative. Stress puts your body in flight-or-fight mode, not in create beauty mode.
When you take the time to just sit and do nothing other than think and observe, you will have the time to process your day. You will even have the time to daydream, which does wonders for your motivation and cheerfulness, I find. This processes of just sitting and thinking, just looking around you, is essential for creativity. When else are we going to be able to think through plot challenges, “walk” in a character’s shoes, or get inspiration for our next book? Which brings me to my next point.
3). You Will Receive Inspiration
Doing nothing – absolutely nothing, other than observe – will allow you to receive creative inspiration. No, I don’t mean that in a new-age kind of way. Rather, I mean that if you stop thinking about your to-do list while you are out and about either taking a walk or doing a spot of shopping, you will have the capacity to notice the person angrily talking on their phone, or the child delightedly shrieking after ducks in the park. Even if you don’t directly use these scenes as inspiration for you books (or other creative works), you might indirectly use them. Maybe you needed to closely watch how a child’s entire face beams when they are truly delighted because you couldn’t get a certain scene right. Or maybe you needed inspiration for dialog. Maybe you just couldn’t quite describe the way the trees seem to imperceptibly ease into fall until it seems that they all at once burst out into reds and golds.
Take the time to look around you. Observe. Notice. Be perceptive. One of the great banes of our harried and hurried society is that perception has been mostly thrown out the window and run over at full speed by a Hummer. Become more perceptive. It will be a blessing in both your personal and creative life.
Our lives are incredibly busy, I know. We no longer have long and lazy afternoons as we did when we were children to lay looking up into the clouds. But that’s okay. Even just a few minutes a day of quiet contemplation will greatly enhance your creative. Each moment will be an investment that will return to you with interest.
How are you going to take time to just rest and reflect today? Do you have a special, quiet spot that you love to retreat to? (I absolutely love it when I can lay on our bed, on my stomach, sinking into our delightful mattress, and just breath and be for a minute without thinking over my to-do list. I also adore walking around my favorite town center – it is the perfect place to people watch, something my daughter already loves to do to.)
I would love to know how you take time to “do nothing”, or what your favorite space to retreat to is like! Please, please, please comment below! I would love to start a conversation with you.