Steven Pressfield says the army provides a foundational skill for creatives: it teaches you how to sit there and just be miserable. Accepting the slog is an important talent when you’re proof-reading a book or facing a particularly intractable user acquisition problem.
And PG recommends arranging your circumstances so that the top idea in your mind (the one you think about during your idle time, like in the shower) is the most important one.
Then, as I listened to a TED talk in the shower, it occurred to me that I was so unable to endure boredom that I was filling my brain’s last chance for deep thought with more noise. My most important thought was being given no soil in which to take root.
Empty time is hard. It’s boring. But that’s what nourishes our most important idea. In our busy lives, the shower tends to be the only empty time we have. But we can make more of it if we’re willing to turn off the filler and endure boredom.
So I’ve deleted all the news and fun and games from my phone. I’ve stopped carrying headphones and books. I moved away from the city, to somewhere less busy, at least for now.
I want more time to be bored.