Consumption Versus Creation: The Ongoing Battle

Consume Less, Create More

A couple months ago I was asked to do an interview for the Why Is That Important podcast to discuss Therapeutic Creativity. I had great time talking with hosts Joe Wenger and Andrew Martin about how creativity can be used as a means of personal therapy whether that creativity take the form of music, art, or even cooking. Do me a favor and check out their podcast and my interview.

During that interview, I briefly strayed off topic a bit to discuss an idea that had recently occurred to me: That we creative types are in a constant struggle between creation and consumption. What do I mean by that? Simply this: On any given day, I can choose to spend my time consuming other people’s creations or I can create my own for other people to consume. No one is capable of being in a state of constant creativity and productivity but surely I can do better than I often do. I like to think of this struggle between consumption and creation as a spectrum.
consumption vs creation
It is a strange reality where I can know and make plans for all of the creative pursuits that I say I care about and want to succeed at, but then can waste an embarrassing amount of hours playing video games (That dang Steam summer sale!) and not making progress towards my goals. I recently listened to an interview with author Rachel Amphlett on the MyKitaab podcast about her self-published books. In the interview Rachel talks about using project management spreadsheets to keep her on track. I’ve exchanged a couple emails with her and she was kind enough to share her spreadsheet template with me. What I saw surprised me….It was very very simple. There was no magic formula hidden inside. It was just a simple spreadsheet where you list what you want to do and you put a check mark in the month you intend to have it completed by. The key to her success in writing has very little to do with those spreadsheets I now realize. Oh sure, they keep her organized but the truth is that Rachel Amphlett and other highly prolific creative types like her are able to accomplish all they do through what everyone knows as self-discipline.

Developing the Discipline for Self-Discipline

That’s right. You just need to actively choose to do the work necessary to reach your creative goals. No special software, no self-help books, no amount of inspirational podcasts can instill in you the will to do more today than you did yesterday. You have to WANT it enough to do the work. I realize that I am not saying anything new here. The concept of self-discipline is an old one. What I hope to grasp personally,  is to understand how people can develop good habits that lead to multiple books being written each year, multiple albums released,  a continuous stream of finished video productions, or whatever the creative medium is. How do you become that person?

I don’t have the answer to that for myself, much less anyone else. What I do know is that I am trying to walk a little further away from the consumption side of the spectrum and closer to the creation side. We all need time to relax. We all need time for leisure activities. The key is finding a good balance that leads to the achievement of goals while also leaving space for family and friends, and just letting your brain reset occasionally.

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