Clearing The Pipe of Creative Expression


I like to think of the flow of creativity like water running through a pipe. The pipe of creativity can easily become clogged with the residue of thinking. When we get too serious or when we start trying to figure things out, we create blockages in the pipe.

All this serious mental activity is like throwing bacon grease down the sink – eventually it ends up blocking off the pipe completely.

Play is like Liquid Drano for the soul.  When we stop being serious and stop trying so hard to figure things out, the residue on the pipe of creative intuition begins to soften.  Blockages release and creative expression flows more freely.

One of my favorite practices for opening up the flow of creative inspiration is what my wife calls “Yes, And…”  Here’s how it works:

  • Step 1Choose an Issue – Come up with a question, idea, or creative task that you would like to explore.  You can do this alone or with a group of friends.  The key is to start with some sort of question or intention.  For instance, you might start with the question: “what should I write today?” or “how can I make enough money doing what I love?”


  • Step 2 – “Yes, And…” – Now’s the time to start cleaning out the pipe.  Express either on paper or verbally every idea that comes up.  It doesn’t matter if it sounds stupid, insane, or weird.  At the end of each idea say “Yes, And…”  This is your invitation to keep going.  So you might say, “I could write about how philosophy can improve dishwashing efficiency.”  “Yes, And…I could write about what Socrates might think of the modern suburban experience.” “Yes, And…”  You get the picture.


  • Step 3 – Look for Insights – Once you have expressed everything that comes to mind, see what’s left.  If you’re doing this with friends, ask them what ideas resonated.  If you’re doing it by yourself, think back or look at your notes.  Even better, look inside and ask: “what ideas felt like they came from a deeper place of inspiration?”

You might come up with your next great idea using this practice.  Or you might not.  The real goal is cleaning out the pipe of creative intuition.  The goal is to loosen up all the seriousness and efforting that blocks the flow of creative expression.

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