In my house we have two laptops, one desktop, four tablets, two smartphones and one giant television. For two people. On any one of the above, I can distract myself for hours, or days. Oh, sure, I do some writing on my MacBook, but I also read the news, listen to music, look at FaceBook, pay bills, follow my Amazon sales rank, google lyrics to songs, look at pictures of my house, read car reviews, watch Star Wars clips, look at cat videos, post bitchy stuff about politicians, suck my teeth at the cretins who post bitchy stuff about politicians I like, check out videos of Richard Pryor, Lewis Black and Yo Elliot, watch movies I’ve already seen a hundred times, follow the Mets, play solitaire, FreeCell and Sudoku…
For me, boredom is a necessary ingredient if I really want to get any decent writing done. I need to walk in the park without my phone, and without obsessing how many circuits make a mile and how many miles it takes to buy me out of doing my deadlifts. I need to sit in a quiet room with the television off. I need to let my mind wander and try to get off that nagging Puritan trip about needing to be busy all the freakin’ time. Oh, sure, I need to engage, too, I get that, I need to read and learn new stuff, but I don’t think it’s constructive to be distracted or entertained every waking moment of every day, not for writers and not for anyone else, either.
My personal theory is that you need to give your mind time and space to take out the garbage. Supposedly your brain gets rid of plaque while you’re asleep, but that’s not what I mean. There’s so much noise in our culture these days, so many TV channels, so many voices shouting for attention, and 99% of it is inane bullshit. Ask any technician: what happens when a filter is overwhelmed? The organism or the machine either chokes or starves, depending on the failure mode of the filter in question.
If you are a writer, and maybe even if you’re not, you need to disconnect every now and then, and stay disconnected until your head feels clear. You might be surprised at the ideas you find floating around up in there, ideas you haven’t been able to hear above the background babble.