How To Be Entertained and Productive at the Same Time

Entertainment has a bad reputation. Its sister word “amusement” after all can be loosely translated to “mindless” – “a” (without) “muse”. And for most people, entertainment is a way to waste time and avoid the important things in life.

It doesn’t have to be that way, though. When we go to see great skill performed on a stage, in a sports arena, in a movie, or in an art gallery, we don’t have to just passively consume. It is possible to be entertained and productive at the same time.

For me, going to see an improv comedy show Saturday night* was both entertaining and productive because 1) I laughed myself silly, and 2) it gave me material for something I created that very same night in a blog post here. Because I am a writer and a creator, that entertainment and all entertainment I encounter is something I can transform into creative work. When I commit to the alchemy of creativity – transforming pure consumer entertainment into creativity – entertainment becomes much more than just “amusement.”

All entertainment is the result of someone’s creative work. What we forget is that it’s also an opportunity for further creativity on our part. Many entertainments inspire us, but few enough inspire us to creative action. If we want to change that, we have to be prepared:

  • Have an open creative outlet and active creative habit: If we are busy writing elsewhere, writing that play review will be a lot more natural after our trip to the theatre. If we are taking photos elsewhere, we will have less excuse to let that parade go by without creating a snapshot of beauty.
  • Pay attention: We should experience entertainment through the lens of our creativity. We should notice and take notes on the things that we can use to construct something else.

We don’t have to let the chain of creativity end with us. If we let one act of creativity drive another, we’ll rarely waste our entertainment time again.

* This blog idea comes courtesy of my friend Nick Rundlett, with whom I spent last Saturday evening being entertained and generating creative ideas. 

James Walpole

James Walpole is a writer, startup marketer, and perpetual apprentice. You're reading his blog right now, and he really appreciates it. Don't let it go to his head, though.

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