Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift, and Drake generate non-stop hits for years.

What are they doing differently?

Thread: How to generate way more ideas
I was watching a documentary on songwriter Ed Sheeran. In it, he described his songwriting process.

It struck me as identical to the process that author Neil Gaiman detailed in his Masterclass.
Here's the thing.

Ed Sheeran and Neil Gaiman are in the top 0.000001% of their fields. They're among very few people in the world who consistently generate blockbuster after blockbuster.
If two world-class creators share the exact same creative process, I get curious.

I call their approach the 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.
Because your pipe only has one faucet, there's no shortcut to achieving clarity other than first emptying the wastewater.
Let's apply this to creativity:

At the beginning of a writing session, write out every bad idea that reflexively comes to mind.

Instead of being self-critical and resisting these bad ideas, accept them.
Once the bad ideas are emptied, strong ideas begin to arrive.

Here's my guess as to why:
Once you've generated enough bad output, your mind begins to reflexively identify which elements caused the badness.

Then it begins to avoid them. You start pattern-matching novel ideas with greater intuition.
Most creators never get past their wastewater. They resist their bad ideas.

If you've opened a blank document, scribbled a few thoughts, then walked away because you weren't struck with gold, then you too didn't get past it.
Neil and Ed know they're not superhuman.

They simply treat the brain as a pipeline for entering a creative flow state, and they never forget that the pipe needs clearing.

In every creative session, they allot time for emptying the wastewater.
They're not worrying whether clear water will eventually arrive. It always does:

• Your work starts as a weak imitation.
• You identify what makes the imitation weak.
• You iterate on the imitation until it's original.
Mozart had 600 musical compositions and Edison had 1093 patents.

Only a few are remembered today, and that's the point.
Here's Neil Gaiman's reaction to this Creativity Faucet essay (it's also on my site):
Here's an interview where Ed Sheeran talks about the faucet:
Here's a video of John Mayer showing off the Creativity Faucet in real-time:
I post threads like this once per week.

Follow along as I deconstruct marketing, writing, and startups.

See my past threads on creativity here:

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More from @Julian

10 Jun
I've now written 30 Twitter threads.

I use them to log great ideas and everything that surprises me.

Here are my 9 best threads (on startups, writing, marketing):
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24 May
How do you quickly grow an online audience?

Here's how I've helped folks do it.

A mix of writing, marketing, and startups:
One audience building approach:

• YouTube/Twitter for viral distribution
• Blogging for SEO distribution
• Newsletter for maintaining relationships
• Podcasts for deepening them

Twitter gets the word out.

Newsletters keep people around.

Podcasts help them better know you.
A question to ask when building an audience:

Are they following you for your mind or your labor?

• Labor: You're COLLECTING good content for them
• Mind: You're CRAFTING original content

Mind-followers are extra loyal. They're with you no matter what you do in the future.
Read 17 tweets
19 May
10 of my realizations about writing well:
Your goal isn't to build a writing habit. Your goal is to fall so in love with interesting ideas that you can’t not write about them.
Don't wait for an idea to be fully formed before writing. You write in order to think through the idea. The act of writing compels your brain to connect the dots.
Read 11 tweets
7 May
If you suffer from procrastination when writing...

I eventually overcame it.

How to make writing easier:
To start, I write the worst draft possible as quickly as I can.

Because almost all the work happens during rewriting anyway.

The greatest friction is in putting ideas down in the first place.
It's your first major hurdle: get a bad draft #1 done so you can spend 95% of your time rewriting.

That means, in my bad first draft, I use placeholders any time I'm stuck:
Read 22 tweets
28 Apr
When you follow someone on Twitter:

You choose who influences your thoughts.

Here are people I'm testing out this month:


• The first of three of the most brilliant people on Twitter who have a criminally low amount of followers
• This guy's mind 🤯🤯


• Just like Jeremy, low-key one of the smartest people on Twitter
• She has great takes on critical thinking and behavioral psychology

Read 24 tweets
26 Apr
10 of my founder friends are forces of nature.

Their startups are now worth $400M+ each.

4 behaviors I've observed:
Effective people optimize for what compounds—not just quick wins.

They train themselves to get a dopamine hit when they help their future selves—even if they receive no immediate benefit from the action.

What compounds:

• Building audiences
• Relationships
• Investing $
In school, we learn by being curious and by accepting when we're wrong.

As adults, we forget we're still students—of life.

Effective people recreate environments where they're still told they're wrong:

They befriend blunt, independent-minded thinkers who'll call them out.
Read 9 tweets

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