I've been thinking a lot on this topic, and this morning the delightful Elizabeth Spann Craig posted on it: The Importance of Doing Nothing. I was so glad to hear her nothing-positive blog, because I am a firm believer in unscheduled time for everyone (and especially kids!). I think time with nothing to do is what inspires creativity and builds a person's character. When you're sitting around mulling over nothing in particular, you sort out a lot of your values and dreams and best ideas!
When I was a kid, we lived too far from anything for lessons or camps or sports. I spent most of my time reading or wandering aimlessly. Sometimes I played in the creek, but mostly I rode my bike in circles and daydreamed. Most of those daydreams turned into stories, about a third of which I started writing down in my early attempts at novels. I never made it more than a thirty pages into a project, but that might have been due to handwriting that even at age ten was pretty abysmal (and that was when my handwriting was at its zenith!). When you work without an outline and your notes are on random scraps of school work, it really helps if you can read them.
In that tradition, my daughter has very few scheduled activities. She's taken a few classes from Parks and Rec, but she's not terribly interested in team sports or music. She wants to be a writer more than anything in the world. Needless to say, yesterday she spent about an hour rolling around on an exercise ball in our living room, doing nothing. I hope its teaching her something important.