A concept that’s been pinging around my mind lately is that art, as a creative process, is a leisure activity. A meta example would be this blog, which I started in a moment of bored free time, and is something I keep up when a moment of inactivity causes me to recall its existence.
Another side of art that I’ve been considering is the concept of a weekly sabbath, something that God commands His children to keep in the Old Testament. There are plenty of studies and articles that highlight the benefit of keeping a sabbath (some are religious, but quite a few are secular, by the way), and I think most of us realize we benefit from a day off. In a competitive, work-driven field, however, it can be difficult to give up what feels like critical catch-up/get-ahead time. In fact, some people would turn down a paid day off, preferring to use that day to prove how committed and hard-working they are.
The truth is that taking a day off allows for creative time. After working for a while, it’s easy and natural to slip into a trance-like autopilot state. (Ask anyone who’s worked in food service during a lunch rush) But when we’re given free time, and even (*gasp*) become bored, our brains have the chance to come up with something to entertain itself. At that point, we can have great ideas, or at least, creative ones. (And as any brainstormer knows, the point of creativity is to have any ideas at all, and decide later whether they’re “good” or not)
I found this recently when I was writing a short story for a contest. I was given three prompts, and three days to write a suitable story. One of those days was Saturday, the day I choose to keep as a Sabbath. On that day, I decided to do no typing at all, no creation of the actual story into my laptop or on paper. I did allow myself to brainstorm, however, and dream up ideas in the free time. In a little over a week, I’ll get the results and find out if it paid off, but I believe that time off was vital to the construction of the story. It felt more “baked in,” and I had wild, good ideas that I doubt would have occurred to me without that creative space.
In discussions with some friends, I have lamented the fact that my brothers and I created outlandish stories and dramas when we were young, but I no longer have the inclination or ability to do that. In the end, I chalked it up to us being rather bored, and wanting to play, the only solution being to make a game.
Perhaps that’s what art can be; while many find an emotional outlet in their creative process (and crafts are certainly cathartic), maybe we can agree that art is appealing because it is playing. The joy of creation is that it eventually becomes recreation.