Aaron Sorkin never wrote for fun until after college. Which is insane. If you’re unfamiliar with his work he is responsible for A Few Good Men, The American President, The West Wing, The Social Network, The Newsroom, and a long list of other movies and TV shows. He is screenwriting royalty, and he got there because he was bored.
On the Bill Simmons podcast, Aaron Sorkin talks about the first time he ever wrote for fun.
The year is 1985. There is no Tinder, Snapchat, or Netflix. Smartphones and the internet don’t even exist yet. Aaron Sorkin was sharing a studio apartment. His friends were all out of town or at a party he wasn’t invited too. He had $3 in his pocket; the tv and stereo were broken. It was pure boredom. The only thing in the apartment was a semi-automatic typewriter and blank pieces of paper.
Sorkin talks about how the first time he wrote for fun was writing dialogue. He said,
“I loved it, I stayed up all night writing and I feel like that night has never ended.”
Think about that. We could have been robbed of Moneyball, Charlie Wilson’s War, and Sports Night had it not been for boredom.
Sorkin goes on to say, “There are too many easy boredom killers.” and it’s easy to see what he is talking about. We live in a time where everything is competing for our time. Companies spend billions of dollars to steal more of your time. They feed off your boredom, but it might be time to start using your boredom to feed your creative self.
People put off starting things. That article, book, or screenplay they want to write is put on the shelf until they have the time to do it. In the meantime, their distractions get in the way, and they never feel like they have the time because they are continually keeping themselves from being bored.
Our culture doesn’t make it any easier on us. Sorkin says, “People are curating there lives now,” and it is easy to see what he is talking about. Now there is a pressure not to be bored. To continually be engaged, and with the social pressure to be “living your best life,” the idea of being bored for a lot of people is terrifying.
Being bored gives you the opportunity to delve creativity. To sit alone with your thoughts and challenge us to expand our creative expressions. Be bored, reach for that blank piece of paper instead of your phone. Find the stories that are hiding inside of you, instead of the distractions that are always waiting for you.
A working TV or stereo could have robbed us of some of the most exceptional dialogue in television and movie history, and I can’t help but wonder what kind of works of art are we missing out on because people refuse to let themselves be bored.