Art And Practice As Boredom

Art is hard work

The public usually only sees the glamorous part: the performance, the exhibition, the parties celebrating our work. Being an artist of any type is one big fantasy that seems real to so many. And we may have even bought into the fantasy ourselves, having decided to pursue our art because we only saw the fantasy part.

But art is often boring, tedious, messy, and everything but glamorous. And it's this boredom that can cause us problems. Many artists turn to drugs or alcohol in order to relieve the boredom. Or they may distract themselves in other ways, hiding from doing the work, from getting dirty. 

Think of all the long hours of practice you've gone through over your lifetime. Sitting in a practice room or studio, grinding things out, working on technique and the basics. Not very exciting. And then even once you've reached a certain level of success, there's all the time spent waiting. Waiting in airports, hotels, backstage, at meetings, restaurants, publicity events. Waiting and not doing

As artists, we are naturally doers. We hate waiting. We'd rather be deep in our art flexing our creativity. 

Boredom Management

I always have a book or two with me. Rather than just sit around feeling bored, I will read. I've read more books waiting backstage to perform than I can remember. This creative use of my time has enriched my life, my thinking, and even inspired future projects.

As a writer, I've also written, whether it be pen on paper, or electronically. I remember once waiting in a long, slow moving line, and writing a complete magazine article on my iPhone. When I finally got home, I downloaded it to my computer, edited things, and had a complete article that I sold to a magazine. All of this done instead of being bored and wasting my time.

Meditation is another good way to manage your downtime. I've certainly had my share of great ideas come to me while waiting around and meditating . This meditation has also helped me get better in touch with myself. 

No Boundaries

It's important to realize that art as a spiritual practice is not bound by time or space. You can become engaged anytime, anywhere—not just your usual 9am in your studio. And by realizing this, you can release yourself from boredom's grip. 

Boredom Exercises

1) The 1st thing is to realize when you are bored and using self distraction to alleviate the boredom. Signs are the previously mentioned drugs & alcohol, but other common distractions can be food, television, and of course, the internet.

2) Once you've identified that you are bored, look for something more positive, more creative to do, like practicing, sending out proposals, research, even taking care of the book keeping for your art.

3) Realize that daydreaming is NOT the same as boredom. Daydreaming is a positive, constructive process that churns your creativity and exercises your mind. Boredom is often an impasse, where you reach a point that you feel no progress can be made and it feels like nothing is happening.

4) It's very important to know that often boredom is just, well, boredom. It happens, and sometimes you really can't do anything about it. Sometimes the best relief is a pattern disruption. Boredom can be a signal that we need a change, need a break. Go for a walk, work in your garden, clean your house, do the dishes, etc. Do anything but let boredom get a tight grip on you.


~ MB

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