“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.” Sir J. Lubbock
It’s been said that, as a matter of habit, Shakespeare was idle in between penning his plays. And in literary circles, stories abound of writers who wee inspired with great ideas while relaxing. Agatha Christie made a point of saying that she conjured up some of her best plot twists while doing the dishes!
The takeaway here: rest and idleness renew and recharge us. That’s why balance is so important in life. Just in case you still need convincing, here’s what the creator of the term “flow” once said:
“Robertson Davies, the Canadian author, said one of the most important things in his life was being able to take a nap every day after lunch for twenty minutes. That’s for two reasons. One is that by developing a schedule that’s under your control, you are not being flogged around by life, as he puts it; you are not always jumping to someone else’s tune. You develop your own rhythm of work and rest. The other thing is that it’s during idle time that ideas have a chance to recombine in new ways, because if we think consciously about solving a problem or writing a book, then we are sitting there forcing our ideas to move in a lockstep, in a straight line, and probably what comes out is not very new or original.
For original ideas to come about, you have to let them percolate under the level of consciousness in a place where we have no way to make them obey our own desires or our own direction. So they find their way, their random combinations that are driven by forces we don’t know about. It’s through this recombination that something new may come up, not when we try to push them directly.”
– Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi interview by Michael Toms, New Dimensions newsletter.
Hope this convinces you to “develop your own rhythm of work and rest.” I’ve always found that the work-play approach is most helpful to me. Bouts of intense work followed by rest and “play”—this pattern seems to spark my creativity. How about you? What rhythm works best? Have you found that rest and idleness recharge your creativity? I’d love to hear from you as we all write on!
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