Log Jams and the Creativity Faucet

{|<} Photo by Kamala Saraswathi

Nearly 20 years ago, when I first got past my fear and started writing again, I had nearly 15 years of ideas piled up inside.

Yet, I quickly realized they weren’t good. They were half-baked and stale and none of them made interesting stories.

I imagined they were like a log jam and I needed to clear out each one in order to get to the good stuff. Of course, the good stuff were new and unknown and everyday I’d show up not knowing what would happen.

But one I got past my fear of failing, of making a mess, of being embarrassed, I embraced the excitement of discovering these new stories.

I bring all this up because I was reminded of that feeling when I read Julian Shapiro’s Creativity Faucet:

Visualize your creativity as a backed-up pipe of water. The first mile of piping is packed with wastewater. This wastewater must be emptied before the clear water arrives.

You need to clear out the bad ideas to get to the good stuff, and for me, all those stagnant ones had jammed up the entire pipe. The only way was for me to do the work of digging them out, putting them on the page—and here’s the critical part—moving on.

The good stuff is unknown and lies behind the block.

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