Practicing Creativity

Record sketches, rough observations, and ideas in inboxes

Create a place where raw, unshaped ideas, observations, and sketches you want to revisit can go. Rather than grouping ideas by where you found them, place them in one inbox that you regularly revisit and process into more refined and shaped work.

This practice has three major benefits:

  1. Generation or collection of raw material—Creativity starts with raw material
  2. Tunes the senses toward presence and attention through frequent open-ended observation—Cultivate presence and attention
  3. Makes connections between distinct experiences or sources more visible


  • A writing inbox with thoughts, one line prompts, very rough notes, and undeveloped ideas that emerge while reading, in meetings, or doing other things that you may process into more lasting writing. See Andy Matuschak's description of his writing inbox
  • A drawing inbox (sketchbook) with small, rough sketches, visual motifs, incomplete visual patterns that you may develop and combine into longer studies or refined illustrations.
  • A pattern inbox with observations about frustrations, ideas for layout changes or improvements, or found observed patterns you may want to process into full projects for updating or changing your home environment.
  • An inbox for loose ideas for your to do list a la Getting Things Done

Make sure these inboxes are reviewed regularly, both to remove pieces that are no longer relevant or interesting and to process pieces into more durable and defined output.

Pages that link here

These are my draft notes on creativity—as a skill, a practice, and a mystery

About Practicing Creativity

These are my notes on creativity—as a skill, a practice, and a mystery. Everything you find here is in a perpetual draft state and much of it may not make sense. I hope these notes become clearer over time as I continue writing and updating them, although I hope they might be useful even in disarray.

For updates on new or revised notes, please subscribe to the newsletter!