Creativity is the Residue of Time Wasted

quotables buttonCreativity is the residue of time wasted.

– Albert Einstein*

Sometimes time wasted is just time wasted. And sometimes time wasted ends up being creativity.

Why is this? Well, creativity is a funny thing. You don’t always know where you’re going to end up when you start. You might find yourself in a lot of dead ends before you get somewhere interesting. And so your endless scribbling at your desk, or your doodling, or your songwriting might look a lot like time wasted to everyone else.

This is the difficult thing about creativity, and it’s part of the reason the arts are called both a ‘waste of time and money’ AND essential to humanity. The process for creating art is not standard in the way the scientific method is standard. A lot of what’s produced might looked like garbage, or time wasted. And throwing money at the arts does not necessarily equal creativity (in a neat, positively correlated way, I mean), which frustrates a lot of goal-driven people.

But then, every once in a while, you do get mind-blowing stuff. Which reminds everyone, once again, to give creative people the space they need to create.

For creators, this means learning the balance between wasting time and being productive… gaining an instinct for knowing when to stop doodling and start painting, or stop researching and start writing, or whatever. Sometimes a dead-end is fun and endless entertaining (like writing the missing scenes to Jane Austen’s novels). Which sometimes means you should stick that in your ‘leisure’ time slot instead of your ‘working’ slot.

I, by no means, have figured this out yet. Have you?


*The internet attributes this quote to Albert Einstein. We all know how accurate the internet is 🙂


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Filed under Creativity and Art, Quotables

3 responses to “Creativity is the Residue of Time Wasted

  1. Kiler

    yeah, i’m 33 and I’m starting to realize that creativity kind of ruined my life. I now know it’s not going to be my career and it seems I had been living convinced I’ll be doing something that has to do with arts. I understand that out of all the people out there who chose this path only certain percent will succeed but most will waste their time (and maybe even life). The possibility of being unsuccessful is so high that I no longer see any point in trying. I choose not to be sorted out by “the system” and to steer my life (or what’s left of it) in another direction.


    • Creativity is necessary, but should creativity translate into a career for all creative people? You’re right, that doesn’t always happen. For me, I often doubt that I can make a career out of being creative. I just try to keep in mind, when I make up my mind to be creative, that I can’t spend my creative time trying to be ‘productive.’ I think the gap between creativity and what’s normally seen as productivity was the point of this post.
      Hope you find the right direction in your life! I sure enough know it’s hard to figure it out.


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