Creativity Comes from Idleness


Our creativity is like a daily pool of water within each of us.

When we use it, it depletes a bit. When we’re distracted it quickly drains. And when we’re alone with our thoughts it replenishes.

In an ideal world you’d wake up and have a full day of creativity ahead of you. You’d just sit down and create, and your reservoir would grow a thousand ideas.

But the modern world has tapped our daily reserves with continuous distraction. Most notably our phones. When we stare at a screen our ideas dry up like a cracked lakebed, and somehow it makes us want to eat more dust to quench our thirst.

Showers are an exception. In the shower we become an idea firehose. Why is that?

The reason you become creative in the shower is because it’s (mostly) impossible to be distracted. You’re just there—naked—with your own thoughts. And suddenly you become a genius.

Showers reveal that the natural state is to have ideas, and to be creative. It’s what happens when you are not distracted, and you can prove this by just sitting in a quiet place with no inputs for 5-30 minutes. You’ll overflow with thoughts.

This also works with solitary walks. No phone. No podcasts. No audiobooks. Just you and your surroundings. Like in the shower, the ideas will spill from you.

So what’s the lesson here?

  1. In our natural, idle state we produce a replentishing pool of creative water.

  2. Being distracted siphons off that creativity into nowhere.

  3. If you value being inspired, spend time alone with nothing but your mind.