What To Do When Your Passion Gets… Ehh… Boring

I got bored last week. Very bored. Oh boy.

“But Ollin. You’re a writer! It’s your passion. You should never get bored with your passion!”

Ha. Right. You would think so. I guess we can knock that myth, too. Non-writers probably think writers have some magical gene that makes them impervious to boredom. Writers can spend hours and hours non-stop in front of a laptop by themselves, cut off from the world, and enjoy ever single minute of it–without rest or break. Because we looooove it so much.

Eh, right. I know you like to think of us as pale-faced Morlocks who are overly shy, socially retarded, and have a phobia of words like “Fun” and “Outdoorsey.” But the truth is writers do have a social life that needs to be attended to. A social life we may only choose to neglect out of sacrifice for our writing.

Boredom can be a big challenge for writers. It’s an ugly thing that can snowball pretty quickly into a bad case of WB (a.k.a. Writer’s Block) if you don’t attend to it quickly. Boredom often comes unexpectedly. It’s a guest you didn’t invite that suddenly shows up and asks to stay for the night. Then weeks pass and you keep staring at Boredom like: “You’re STILL here? WHY haven’t you left yet!?

The reason that Boredom is still chillaxin’ in your living room is because you haven’t kicked him out yet. Yes, Boredom needs to be kicked out if you really want him gone. Not asked, not begged, not blackmailed, seduced, or tricked. Nope. BOREDOM needs to be KICKED OUT with as much force as you can muster.

So Boredom came to crash at my pad last week and I tried my best to shove him out the door. Here’s what I did to finally kick Boredom out, and get back to the book.

  • Take a break: You might be wondering. How did I get so bored with something that I love so much? It’s because you’ve been beating it to death. You’re suffocating it with your presence. You’re overdoing it. You’ve spent too much time, one-on-one with it and now its begging you: “Hey Dad, I love you and all. And it’s great spending time with you, but… Can I spend time with my friends now?” Let the book go play for a while. Let it breath and stretch. Let it take a run around the park. You need a break, too. Take as much time as you need.  Don’t sweat it. The book will be there when you’re ready.
  • Do the opposite: Now I doubt that a professional basketball player who is getting bored with practicing free-throws starts to write a novel (although that would be awesome), but for writers, doing the opposite usually works. You’ve been sitting down this whole time, doing work that requires only half of your brain and nothing else. It’s time to give the other 95% of your body some attention for once. So get off your butt and get physical! I found running to be very relaxing and refreshing on my break. When you were a kid and you were bored, you and your friends would just start playing freeze-tag, or red light/green light, or hot potato–the point is, you moved! And movement kills boredom. Check and mate.
  • Read: This may seem counterintuitive because as you are writing you are also reading, but the difference is that when you write, what you are reading is your own work. Which, as we have discussed, is now far away from any finished product. By it’s very nature looking at bad writing all day (especially your own) can get very very boring. However, reading another writer’s finished work (especially from a genre different from your own) can have the exact opposite effect: it can be relaxing and even inspiring. As you read someone else’s work, you’re not stressed out anymor,e because you’re no longer trying to fix or study what you are reading. You’re just enjoying yourself. Talk about catharsis: the book you’re reading is already in its final draft–published, printed and pre-read by the masses.  Here’s a taste of what I’ve been reading: “Every man has to learn the points of a compass again as often as he awakes, whether from sleep or any abstraction. Not till we are lost, in other words, not till we have lost the world, do we begin to find ourselves, and realize where we are and the infinite extent of our relations – Henry David Thoreau.” Dude, did HDT just turn my confused despair into a serene peace with a profound, universal truth? Uh, yeah he did. Woah.
  • Change location: If I have one more Caramel Macchiato I will vomit. That’s it. I’m moving my writing to the library, where the stench of coffee doesn’t stick to my clothes and I don’t have to overhear yet another person give their best friend bad relationship advice. (HE’S NOT THAT INTO YOU!  There’s a whole movie about it!  Rent it and save money on that crappy, mass-produced latte you’re not gonna finish.)
  • Get hooked on a new artist: Music is often the writer’s savior. It can be really motivational and inspiring in ways I can’t really describe. But sometimes the old playlist can kill your desire to create, so that’s when it’s time to discover yourself your new favorite artist. The guy I found wasn’t that new, but that’s not important. He’s new to me and that’s what makes things exciting.  Ok, YouTube. Cue the man whose voice is causing angels in heaven to spontaneously grow reproductive organs:

(Editor’s Note: this post originally featured a video of Michael Buble singing the song “Feeling Good.”)

I think that last song just punched Boredom in the face, gave it a wedgy, and threw it off of the front porch.

Phew. Thank goodness. I think me and my passion are gonna be juuuust fine. Now back to the book…

Eh… I think I’m going to go running first.

much “and I’m feeling… goooooooooooood”

Ollin

What do YOU do when writing (or another passion) gets… ehh… boring?

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21 comments on “What To Do When Your Passion Gets… Ehh… Boring

  1. T.S. Bazelli says:

    Yes passion is all and well, but it’s not a constant burning feeling. Some days you just have to slog through the work, and yeah, that can get boring.

    Reading is my default for getting the creative juices flowing again. Also getting out of the house, going for a walk, on a date, or watching a movie. Anything to shake up the routine, usually helps me kick that freeloader Boredom out the door. He doesn’t like it when I’m busy ignoring him🙂

  2. What do I do when writing gets boring? I either take a break , or write a random, silly piece that’s completely unrelated to my current project.

    Good ideas you have here!

  3. I go jogging in the park!

    – Corra

    the victorian heroine

  4. milkfever says:

    A simply brilliant post, Ollin, and just what I needed. As a Pilates teacher – when not writing – I know how important it is to look after the body, and not just stimulate the mind.

    I can see why you are loving Thoreau. What a great quote.

    Have you heard Mr Buble sing Me and Mrs Jones? Whoa, that will vanquish boredom immediately.

    All of your suggestions are perfect for chasing away boredom.

    • Thanks! I was thinking about taking up yoga as a lifestyle change, but I’ve heard a lot about Pilates, but I’m not sure what exactly it is. But that sounds like the perfect day job for a writer, stimulate the body during the day, then stimulate the mind at night. A perfect balance.

      No I haven’t heard him sing that song. I’ll have to YouTube it. Thanks!

  5. Lua says:

    Haha I love this post Ollin! When your work is something you’re truly & deeply passionate about, people think you never get bored, you’re always in this trance mode just writing, writing and writing, words flowing with no effort at all and you never get bored!
    I get bored BIG TIME!!🙂 I have the attention span of a five year old which means it is very easy for me to get bored and get distracted from the work I’m doing… And your list is dead on- those things are the cure for any kind of boredom. I usually pick up a book by an author I’ve never heard before, watch a new movie and chancing location works like magic! I also like to do some stationery shopping, that always cheers me up!🙂

    • Ha. It is funny that people think writer’s never get bored. I wonder if that’s a big reason why I lot of writers don’t start writing because they think to themselves: “this is boring, I must not be a writer. I can’t do this.” I hope this shows them that yes we do get bored, and that is just part of the process. But if you get pass the boredom, there’s plenty of fun that can be had! Thanks for the wonderful comment!🙂

  6. jannatwrites says:

    I like to check out other blogs when I get bored…or write a post for my blog if the mood hits me. It gives my mind enough of a break that I can get back into my project later.

  7. junebugger says:

    Thank you soo much for this inspiring post!! Not so much now, but a few years back, I got bored of every story I started. Now that I’m working on a new book I’m afraid I might lose interest halfway. I’ll keep your pointers in mind if ever this boredom crisis strikes

    • You’re welcome June H.! It happens to all of us. But just like everything that comes our way, I know we have, or can develop ways in which we can work around what ails us. The most important thing is to keep writing.

  8. Lisa K. says:

    I know exactly what you mean. I get bored to now and then, and sometimes far more often than I’d like to admit. And I don’t always love to write, either. There are many days when I wish there was something else that pulls me the way writing does. But no matter what, it’s still my driving ambition. And it’s funny. I’ve had people tell me that they always love to write, that they can’t understand how I could not always love to write. My response is always: if you feel that way, you’re probably not writing enough, lol!

    • That is so true. I have a great suspicion that those who say they don’t get bored or are never in need of motivation, aren’t really writing as much as they think they are. It really is like a full-time job, and any full-time job whether you love it or not, can get boring. I’ve acted in small films before, and even though I love acting, it can get boring. All those moments waiting for the crew to get the lighting right, boring. Hours and hours waiting around!

      But maybe I’m wrong, maybe there are people who don’t get bored or need motivation. They are very very lucky people!🙂

  9. Hello Ollin,
    I’ve just discovered your blog and I know I’ll be back often.
    It’s true, anything can get boring no matter how passionate you are. Your tips are really great, but I’m especially excited about the idea of Boredom as an unwelcome guest that needs to be kicked out! It’s better than thinking of it as some sort of virus that will work it’s way through your system in it’s own time, because that’s when it really makes itself comfortable.
    Thanks for the inspiration!

    • You’re welcome jenny!

      You really do need to kick boredom out with all your might! At least that is what I have learned. You let it stick around and it’ll just keep freeloading.🙂

  10. […] lot of time on this blog talking about how sometimes I hate my novel, how sometimes writing can be boring. I’ve had moments of apathy and moments where I wanted to give up completely. Then there were […]

  11. […] need to find peace or feel empowered. Or maybe you need to go for a run. Maybe you need to take a break from your work, or maybe you need to reconnect with friends and […]

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