Refilling the well

Inspiration isn’t something that can be emptied. Sure, we can feel blocked at times. But in reality, it’s just our own self getting in our way.

There’s no real trick to finding inspiration. One study suggests that focusing on a non-mentally demanding task can free up the subconscious to do its work. It’s why showers often bring good ideas, and thinking of a question before going to sleep can net you an answer upon waking.

Another good practice is to experience the ideas of others. I’m torn by what Seneca says about reading – “Be careful, however, that there is no element of discursiveness and desultoriness about this reading you refer to, this reading of many different authors and books of every description. You should be extending your stay among writers whose genius is unquestionable, deriving constant nourishment from them if you wish to gain anything from your reading that will find a lasting place in your mind. To be everywhere is to be nowhere. People who spend their whole life traveling abroad end up having plenty of places where they can find hospitality but no real friendships. The same must needs be the case with people who never set about acquiring an intimate acquaintanceship with any one great writer, but skip from one to another, paying flying vists to them all.” (italics for my emphasis)

I do see the value of spending time reading one author’s work and digesting it, not just glancing over it. This rumination could be akin to what Cal Newport calls deep work.

However, it’s also good to gain perspectives from many sources, especially when looking to pull from your own source of creativity. Gaining a multitude of ideas is how the well is filled.


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