"The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible." -Vladimir Nobokov

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Creation Over Consumption

Yesterday I had one of those afternoons where I click on something and then I blink and two hours have passed. Waking up from one of these internet trances is always a bit disconcerting. I usually feel pretty good about my internet use, mainly because I spend most of my time reading enriching articles or watching videos where people think critically about books, media, and art. But in consuming other people's thoughts for two hours on autopilot, without noticing my own thoughts or even my own body, I realized just how much more time I spend consuming rather than creating online.

I would bet that this is a pretty common phenomenon. It's a lot easier to consume other people's creations than to create your own. I often find myself inspired after seeing the things other people create, but I've begun to realize how rarely that inspiration is acted on, and even more rarely is it actually turned into a completed project.

Maybe this shouldn't bother me as much as it does, but after a year of watching inspiring youtube videos, consuming thousands of aesthetically pleasing Instagram photos, and reading countless blog posts (half of which were about "how to be productive"), I'm getting fed up with this habit of always consuming and never creating.

That's not to say that I believe all consumption is bad. Creativity doesn't happen in a vacuum, as they say. But creativity also doesn't happen if you spend your time wishing it away. I've let myself become used to the ache of seeing something that inspires me and then letting that inspiration go to waste because "I'm scared" or "I don't have time." I'm tired of wrapping myself in a warm blanket of excuses.

That's why 2016 is going to be a year of creation over consumption. I'm going to follow my creative urges wherever they may lead. I'm going to fight the moon-like pull of all the other creative people doing creative things and instead start focusing on adding my own voice to the crowd.

That being said, I don't really have a concrete plan for getting past my consumption addiction (yet). It's easy to daydream about creating - that's a big part of what all of this consumption has facilitated: a lot of daydreaming. I'm not short on ideas. In fact I'm practically drowning in them. It's just a matter of picking one. Finding the nearest tool. And starting.

London & Florence Countdown:
Days until departure: 6
Excitement to Anxiety Ratio: 75:25


  1. What keeps me creating is committing to things where others depend on me (the weekly podcast), or things even a few people wait for (the new fiction podcast). Even when I don't feel up to doing those things, I do them because I don't want to hear, "Where is it?!" -- and I'm always pleased with the results.

    The same goes for writing. Outside of setting realistic writing goals (it can be 250 or 500 words a day, or just saying, "For 30 minutes in the morning -- before doing anything else, especially looking at my phone or opening a Web browser -- I will write."), I've also found things like little competitions and other tasks carrying deadlines keeps me moving when I feel like not doing anything at all.

    Good luck with a productive new year!

    1. Chris, Thanks for the great advice! You're right, having some kind of accountability definitely helps. So excited for what 2016 will bring. Good luck with your projects as well!

  2. Creation must be a daily process. How do you start? You just start. No plan. Someone once said "it's easier to steer a car that's moving than one that's standing still". Don't worry about how, just start

  3. That's such a great quote! I'm slowly learning that momentum begets momentum and to not get too caught up in the details. Time to begin!