The Idea Faucet: A Simple Exercise to Generate Ideas & Get Unstuck

By Jeremy Enns

By Jeremy Enns

By Jeremy Enns

A while back, I came across Julian Shapiro’s idea of the Creativity Faucet.

Here’s how he describes it:

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.

Because your pipe only has one faucet, there’s no shortcut to achieving clarity other than first emptying the wastewater.

I think about this idea on a near-daily basis.

Whenever I’m struggling to write out an article, tweet, or some other form of creative work, I imagine the backed-up pipeline, turn on the faucet, and let the bad ideas flow until the good ones arrive.

Almost without fail, eventually, they do.

In the original post, Julian recommends applying this idea during an individual writing session.

But the concept applies well beyond that use case.

At the macro level, we can apply the idea of the Creativity Faucet to our entire body of work.

No matter who we are, when we first start creating anything in a new medium, our work is simply not that good.

To get to the good stuff, the stuff that’s really worth people’s attention, we have to first flush out the pipes.

For most pursuits, be it podcasting, newsletter writing, or social media, it will most likely take us well over 100 reps (perhaps many more) to reach the point where the backed-up water has been flushed out and our output is consistently high-quality.

At the micro-level, the Creativity Faucet applies to pretty much any challenge we face in growing our creative platforms.

For me, this most often takes the form of choosing a prompt or a question I don’t know how to answer, such as “What would make my show the go-to choice for my ideal listener?”

Then, I make a list of possible answers.

The list is rarely clean or cohesive. But that’s kind of the point. This is the wastewater being flushed out of my brain and onto the page, after all.

Keep writing, however, and soon enough, interesting solutions to the problem begin to fill up the page.

Almost anywhere we get stuck in our creative work, the idea of Creativity Faucet applies.

Struggling to come up with episode topics?

Turn on the faucet.

Need to come up with ways to get your show in front of a bigger audience?

Turn on the faucet.

Social media content isn’t performing as well as you’d like?

Turn on the faucet.

You may need to leave the faucet on a lot longer than you’d like.

But let the water run long enough, and it will inevitably bring you the results you’re looking for.

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