Creativity 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 🙂