May 1, 2013

The Power of Boredom for Content Creators

(This post originally appeared on the Resonance Content Marketing Blog.)

Content Creator's ToolboxWelcome to the Content Creator’s Toolbox, our series dedicated to helping all creators of all types of content keep those creative juices flowing. If you have a creativity question or challenge you’d like us to address in a future post, drop us a line!

Be honest: when’s the last time you were bored? I mean, really bored? I’m not talking about the last time you flipped through channels groaning “I’m sooo bo-o-ored with these reruns!” or scrolled through your Facebook newsfeed thinking you’ll carve your eyeballs out with a spork if you have to see one more numbskull proclaim “Hey, it’s Friday!” No, I’m talking really, truly bored.

If it’s been a while, you have some catching up to do. At least if you’re going to keep feeding the insatiable beast that is your content marketing program.

A few weeks ago I read an excellent post on ReadWrite called “The iPhone Killed My Creativity” by Brian S. Hall, and it really got me thinking about my own creative process. 

Hall points out that mobile technology has allowed us to create an environment in which boredom is an enemy to be avoided at all costs:

  • Stuck in traffic? Post your frustrations on Facebook … and check out what everyone else is up to while you’re there.
  • Waiting in line at the grocery store? Play a few rounds of Angry Birds.
  • Lingering on hold with tech support? Why not … oh, wait. We’re never stuck on hold anymore—we just hang up and hit the chat function on their website.

And there’s nothing inherently wrong with that … unless you’re ever called upon to create something. Which, these days, means most of us.

Boredom: where real creativity livesHere’s the thing: That blank space that we find ourselves in when we’re devoid of distractions? That’s where creativity lives.

If you hope to make a future out of doing anything creative (again, that’s most of us), I highly recommend reading The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.

As part of her 12-week recovery program for lost creative spirits, Cameron recommends a week of media deprivation: for one week, no reading, no TV, no movies, no input of any kind. For my own 2013 version, I add no gaming and no social media (aside from what is absolutely necessary to do my job, of course).

The idea is that when we’re forced to occupy our brains without the benefit of outside input, our creative spirits cry out “Yippee! Finally!” and start cranking out ideas. Sometimes great ideas, sometimes silly ideas, sometimes “dear-Lord-no-one-can-know-I-ever-came-up-with-that” ideas … but always, always creative ideas.

So here’s your homework: Once a week, shut yourself in your office (or barricade yourself in your cubicle) for 30 minutes with no electronics, no books, and no magazines. Just you, a pencil, and a pad of paper. Really stick to it and you’ll be amazed at what you come up with.

Give it a try and let us know how it went in the Comments—we’d love to hear from you! 

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About the Author

Rachel ParkerA self-described “marketing nerd,” Rachel Parker, Owner and Chief Content Strategist of Resonance, works with businesses of all sizes to help them meet the challenge of connecting with today’s hard-to-reach customer.

Rachel has made Resonance the “one stop shop” for companies looking to get more out of their content marketing efforts. She’s also a sought-after speaker and has presented to many of Houston’s major business and marketing organizations. Contact Rachel about speaking to your group or business.


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A self-proclaimed geek who can recite entire episodes of South Park by heart, Rachel Parker helps businesses publish content that connects with their audience … and converts those followers into customers. She’s also the host of the Content Marketing Podcast and a sought-after speaker, having presented to many major business and marketing organizations.

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