In a productivity-focused society, one where every moment of the day can easily be packed full with work, intreractions and doing, the idea of non-doing can feel foreign. But what if the space of non-doing and being unproductive gives us a moment to recharge, refresh and approach the rest of our time from a less frantic perspective? While it could be argued that aimlessly browsing the internet, news feeds of social media channels is non-doing in that it may not be productive, your brain feels otherwise. Electronic devices stimulate the brain and do little to give us a break from an overload of constant and never ending information.
What if instead of spending so much time on electronic devices, we devoted some time to making art, allowing our brains a much-needed break from doing? You don’t have to have to start making art in order to improve in some way, you can choose to make art just for the sensation of making art. To experience the process or making something with your hands, instead of only consuming other people’s media. Elizabeth Gilbert in Big Magic talks of the fun found within the creative process: “Why should I go through all the trouble to make something if the outcome might be nothing?” The answer will usually come with a wicked trickster grin: “Because it’s fun, isn’t it?”
While fun is a worthy outcome of making art, the experience of regularly slowing down amidst the noise of every day life to do something that has no outcome has a significant and nourishing effect on the mind. Non-doing has more health benefits than constantly doing, but it’s hard for us to believe that not being productive has any value (given we’ve been socialised from a young age to constantly work on improving, striving and achieving). It takes a conscious decision to stop and try making art with no outcome. For those brave enough to try, a whole possibility of benefits opens up through the art-making process.