For much of this week, I’ve been lazing on the couch playing Halo: Anniversary for the 20th time in my life. It may not be productive towards my writing career, but it’s definitely not wasting time.
The truth is, I wasn’t in the right mood to write — and that happens to anyone with a passion. You lose that driving force. You feel like your facing a blank wall. Or, in my case, you’re not feeling right with any of the projects your working on. And so you waste time.
But it’s silly to consider it “wasting time” because to truly waste time means to literally do nothing. Not even think. And nobody willingly does that. We’re always constantly doing things. Sometimes it’s productive to our future goals, and other times it’s not. Sometimes it’s being active, and other times it’s simply sitting on the dock of the bay.
When we binge-watch a Netflix special, or go out for a walk, or bake a cake out of boredom, it’s still doing something. And even if it doesn’t lead to a tangible result like baking a cake does, it’s still doing something for you. That’s why you do those things.
Watching the swell of the ocean while sitting on a wharf sounds like doing nothing, but you are still doing something. You are resting, you are taking in the scenery and allowing it to wash over you. You may be thinking, giving time for your thoughts to process. Or you may just be watching the ships come in.
Sometimes I’ll lie in bed and listen to music. I’m not fine-tuning an old skill or learning something new, but I am changing the way I feel. Because listening to music makes me feel the way I want to feel, even if I just want to feel sad.
Music can do wonders for our emotions, which is why a lot of creatives use it to power certain feelings in their projects.
When I re-play Halo: Anniversary for the 20th time, I’m not gaining any meaningful skill or new knowledge, I am simply giving myself a break with something I like. Of course, by giving myself that time, it has afforded new ideas to flow. It has taken my mind away from the stalling stories and allowed me to conjure up some fresh ideas. And here I am, sharing one of them.
So don’t hold back if you need to take a break by doing something “unproductive”. Because you’re not wasting time, you’re just using that time for you. You’re recalibrating a wayward mind and allowing it to step back and take in new perspectives.
And that’s more than just okay. It’s essential.