Is Your Fountain Time Draining Your Creative Well?

Fountain at the Pantheon in Rome

If you’re feeling that your creative well is a bit dry these days, it could be that you’re spending too much time at the public watering hole.

In Rome, I fell in love with all the fountains in every piazza and corner of the city. I enjoyed imagining ancient Rome, seeing neighbors gathered at the fountain in the square to draw their daily water. There, they’d also gossip, exchange news, and enjoy community life.

I think of the Internet as our global village, and Facebook as our ‘local’ watering hole. On Facebook, we share our news, connect with others, and relish a sense of community with like-minded people. It’s wonderful for both personal and professional reasons.

But back to the fountains in Rome. Picture it: people come, draw water, connect, then go home to their work. Now imagine some of those people spending all day at the watering hole. Or going to the fountain every ten minutes to get a cup of water instead of going once or twice and drawing a bucket of water from the fountain.

Observing those people, you’d think, “Gosh, how inefficient.” Or, worse, “Get a life!”

It’s the same for Facebook and Twitter. Amazing fonts of inspiration and connection. But if you’re there all day, what else are you doing? There’s a lot of talk these days about these online resources consuming all our time. About how they distract us and dilute our creativity. But we go there ourselves. We make the choice about how much time we spend hanging out at the fountain.

I'm as guilty as anyone who spends too much time in the public space. But I notice when I am engaged in a creative project, the fountain is less appealing. Focus and time with my work feels better.

Just hanging out in Rome

Take charge of your fountain time. Don’t be one of those people spending all your time in the community space and not enough time in your own creative space.

P.S. Your blog time is not public fountain time. It’s more like, “Come hang out at my pool…or groovy pad or studio…” In case you’re torn between time spent on your blog and time spent on Facebook, check out Alyson’s recent article on why you should not be spending all your creative energy on Facebook.

What about you? Do you find yourself hanging around the public fountain too much these days? What helps you balance your community time with time creating? Tell us here.


  1. says

    Thanks, I really appreciate this post. One thing I’ve done recently (and yeah, it seems so obvious and like such a no-brainer) is to not leave the browser up and running so that all I have to do is wiggle the mouse and rouse the computer from it’s short little nap for facebook to be right there waiting for me.
    I totally agree that once I get into a project (for me music), then yes, the fountain is way less appealing.

    • says

      Thanks for commenting. It is a no-brainer, but for some reason we do it. I think these things would feel so much better if we went to them once or twice a day to draw inspiration and connection.

      I’m as guilty as everyone, especially while in France where I am less connected with friends in person. So I’m with you about not preaching!

      Your story about cigarettes isn’t off topic; it’s a great example of how we choose everything, in every moment. And that we have to make those same decisions again and again. Thanks for the reminder!

  2. says

    I’ll add that I think what you’re getting at is that whenever something (anything) becomes habitual, it loses whatever specialness it might otherwise have. It’s not that spending time on facebook is bad, or plopping down on the couch and flicking on the TV is bad, it’s just that if we are not making a conscious choice to say “this is what I chose right now,” then we are taking power from ourselves and giving it to facebook (or TV, or whatever. In my case it was cigarettes for a long time until I finally decided to take charge and make the choice to say no- and I still have to chose to say no almost every day even though it has been over a year since my last one. Sorry, I know the cigarette thing is a bit off topic, and I certainly am not trying to “preach” to anyone).

  3. says

    I completely agree with you! I blog on the average once a week – the last few weeks being an exception as I am traveling and blogging about it daily. As for Facebook, I see it once in the morning for about 5 minutes and that’s it. There are too many creative things I have going on in my life to spend that much time on the social Facebook merry-go-round.

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