Be Idle

The H Hub

We live in a content saturated world. There are thousands of print and online publications, brands, individuals, and creators constantly putting out content, most of which is below-average quality. In a world where every 13-year-old kid can have a decent camera, not to mention the capabilities of smart phones these days, stepping back, may actually be the forward motion you need.


A book that continues to inspire me as a visual artist is the book If You Want To Write by Brenda Ueland, I highly recommend it to creators of all kinds, not just writers. The book focuses on different anecdotes the writer encounters teaching writing, and the ways different individual students come to connect with their creativity.

Another concept that Brenda Ueland repeatedly comes back to is the world idleness. Many of us not only see the word idleness as a negative phrase, but also would never entertain the word as a productive use of time. Brenda disagrees.

Thoughts By Brenda Ueland

“And that is why these smart, energetic, do-it-now, pushing people so often say: “I am not creative.” They are, but they should be idle, limp, and alone for much of the time, as lazy men fishing on a levee, and quietly looking and thinking, not willing all the time. Willing is doing something you know already, something you have been told by someone else; there is no new imaginative understanding in it. And presently your soul gets frightfully sterile and dry because you are so quick, snappy and efficient about doing one thing after another that you have not time for your own ideas to come in and develop and gently shine.”

“But we northerners have become too much driven by the idea that in twenty years we will live, not now: because by that time our savings and the accrued interest will make it possible. To live now would be idleness. And because of our fear we have come to think of all idleness as hoggish, not as creative and radiant.” – Brenda Ueland

The term ‘patience is a virtue’ is a cliche for a reason. Patience is one of the most important lessons I’m learning in my creative journey. Both patience with myself, and patience with my work have only benefitted me.

What To Do If You’re Feeling Uninspired

Feeling uninspired? Wake up early. Try a new hobby. Sit with yourself, and only yourself and see what rises to the surface. Journal.

Those of us that live in large cities, work jobs, or simply have a lot going on easily distract ourselves when we think we need distracting. Next time you feel the urge to distract yourself, try sitting with yourself and being idle.

Are you afraid of silence? Do you frown upon idleness? Do you set aside time to be alone with yourself? I’ll leave you with one last drop of knowledge from Brenda, and happy creating:

“That is why most people are so afraid of being alone. For after a few minutes of unpleasant mental vacancy, the creative thoughts begin to come. And those thoughts at first are bound to be depressing, because the first thing they say is: what a senseless thing life is with nothing but talk, meals, reading, uninteresting work and listening to the radio. But that is the beginning. It is just where your imagination is leading you to see how life can be better.”

Do you have anything you do to reset yourself, or re-inspire yourself as an artist? What do you think of being idle? Share with us on social @h_collective 

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