Sunday, May 5, 2013

Intentional Pointlessness

This post from Time to Write made me laugh ... and think. He says, "I think everybody should have at least five minutes of intentional pointlessness a day."

I have sort of unintentionally built in a lot of pointless time to many of my days, because I often find nuggets of inspiration, learning or story ideas when I simply mess around.

Right now, I’m taking a break from fiction writing. I’m contemplating going in a different direction with my writing, but I don’t want to make a hasty decision. These days, I’m filling the hours that I ordinarily would spend writing fiction sleeping and screwing around randomly on the internet. I’m getting more sleep than I’ve done in years, which is good for me.

I find that when I randomly open myself to cyberspace, I often come away with amazing nuggets of information or incredible images (I adore photo sites). Until recently, I avoided video. I can read faster than watch a video. Then I discovered TED. (Talk about a wonderful time suck!) Yes, you can read an article faster than watch a video, but you don’t see the sparkle in an eye or a silly grin that tells you that the speaker is being facetious. I indulge in random TED surfing when I have plenty of time usually on weekend evenings.

I also love to daydream. Especially while walking on the beach or in the hour or so before I get up for work. (Even when I’m not writing, I set my alarm for 4:30 AM, I just don’t get up. I either go back to sleep or I lie there and daydream.) Some people might call that meditating. Trust me, it isn’t. It’s not intentional enough to be the “watching of thoughts” that is one form of meditation. It’s way too messy and incoherent to be any sort of focused meditation. Meditation is hard work. I used to do it. Daydreaming is easier and much more fun.

For me all that wasting time and fooling around has two beneficial effects. First, it relieves stress -- and I have a very stressful job. Second, every single story I’ve written came to me out of the blue while I was daydreaming. Most of the blog posts I’ve written on any of my blogs going back to 2004 had their genesis in an article I had read on some random blog or something interesting or provocative that happened to me while I was otherwise fooling around.When I’m working at my job or writing, I am virtually oblivious to my surroundings. I focus totally and intently on what I’m doing. 

The only time the Universe can get my attention to give me little Gifts is when I’m fooling around. For me, messing around is intensely creative -- even if I'm not aware of it at the time.

I think from now on, I am going to be way more intentional about my pointless activities. 

But, then, would they not be as pointless? **Hmm....**


  1. You're recharging and "composting" like Natalie Goldberg likes to say. Good for you. I'm sure your writing will grow from it. Maybe I'll try daydreaming instead of getting upset the next time I wake in the middle of the night. :)

  2. I just finished a book called "The Thirteenth Tale" (which I have scheduled to review here in a few weeks). The character who is a writer says: "Life is compost. ... The writer's life needs time to rot away before it can be used to nourish a work of fiction. It must be allowed to decay."

    I love that! I hope that's what I'm doing, and that it will end up in some kind of creative activity.

    In the interest of full disclosure, while I do better than ever before about not tossing and turning and worrying about going back to sleep, I'm not totally cured of those middle-of-the-night freak-outs. (Especially when I have an early appointment.) :-)