Tipping the Scales: How to Spend More Time Creating Than Consuming

Watching Breaking Bad, listening to Van Morrison radio on Spotify, reading the latest Clive Cussler novel (he’s the king of Indiana Jones-esque historical fiction/adventure, in case you were wondering), perusing a MarketingProfs or Content Marketing Institute post, eating buffalo chicken nachos at the Irish pub down the street…these are all examples of content consumption.

Hold up. Buffalo chicken nachos? Content? But of course. Someone cooked the chicken and chopped the jalapenos and combined those ingredients to produce something with tremendous value. Spicy, delicious value. As consumers, we stare in awe at the glistening cheese, we smell the fiery buffalo sauce, we hear the tortilla chips crack and crunch, and we feel the greasy goodness on our fingertips.

Oh yeah, and we eat them. And they’re flippin’ tasty.

Alright, back on track. The point I’m trying to illustrate here is that it’s easy to get addicted to consuming content. And for good reason: There is a ton of content out there. You could easily fill out several lifetimes trying to consume all of the content that’s been created by your favorite authors, musicians, podcasters, chefs, etc. Don’t get me wrong: Consuming content is a good thing. It teaches us, it entertains us, it inspires us. But if we dedicate ALL of our free time to consuming, how are we supposed to get good at creating?

Practicing Creativity Will Make You a Better Content Creator

By cutting consumption and increasing production, we can all become more efficient and prolific content creators. How many of us spend between 75 percent and 100 percent of our free time consuming?  We’re watching YouTube clips, we’re listening to music, we’re ordering pizza, we’re buying a clock made out of driftwood on Etsy. Why aren’t we recording our own videos, or making our own music, or baking pizza from scratch, or learning new skills so we can complete fun projects?

Shamrock Relief Carving Sit Down and Whittle Some

Worried that my brain was slowly eroding into mush, I decided to make a conscious effort to tip the scales…to create more than I consume. In addition to devoting more time to the creative activities I know best (playing music, writing, cooking), I also decided it was important to learn something new: I wanted to add a new category or channel to my creative repertoire. So, one Saturday morning I walked down to the hardware store, bought some woodcarving knives, bought a few blocks of wood, and whittled me something fierce. (And by “whittle me something fierce” I mean I Googled how to do basic relief carving and then carved a shamrock.)

I learned a lot that weekend. For example, I learned that woodcarving is a very precise art that requires extreme concentration and a very, very steady hand. This ties into another lesson I learned: woodcarving knives are sharp. Really sharp.

The finished product isn’t perfect, but that doesn’t matter. I didn’t carve my shamrock to to sell it, or to have it judged by a panel of art critics. I carved it so I could enjoy the process of carving it.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to make some buffalo chicken nachos.

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