Last Saturday I was on a panel with other authors and one of the questions the audience asked was ‘What inspired you to start writing stories?’
And the answer we all came up with was – ‘We were bored!’
What we didn’t say was ‘We were board and it was awful!’, but ‘We were bored and it set off our imaginations.’
So without discussing it beforehand the four of us children’s authors, A F Harrold, Cameron McAllister, Tatum Flynn and me, all gave four cheers for boredom.
It helps of course, that being – erm – mature writers, our childhoods were much more boring than nowadays. Growing up in a tiny country village or a dull suburb meant that there was very little to do. We also claimed to be Billy-No-Mates, and rubbish at sports, and all sorts of other things which ensured that our days weren’t frantic with meaningful activities or hanging out with squillions of friends. Computers were far less compelling, more expensive, and not in every room. We couldn’t be in touch with our mates – and the rest of the world – at the touch of a screen. Way-back-when (not that long ago, actually) children weren’t even allowed free range on the family’s one phone!
Now, I’ve long been an advocate for boredom as inspiration. In fact, it’s one of the Top Writing Tips I give out. If you want to be creative in any way – writing stories, drawing, writing music, designing computer games – you shouldn’t always fill your head with other people’s images and words and tunes. They can be amazing and inspiring. But not all the time. Your imagination needs room to breathe, to wander, to explore…
But even with all these distractions, one author – Tatum Flynn – came to writing books as a grown-up, due to a boring evening not that long ago. She thought she’d try and write a story.
So… No friends free? Nothing to do? Pouring with rain outside? I’d say let your mind wander and see where it goes.
Does anyone do boredom these days? And how does it work for you?
Tatum Flynn, author of The D’Evil Diaries, blogs about how the event came into being here.