When we’re talking content, consumption and creation are often two sides of the same coin, the two elements of a never-ending ecosystem. We create content and put it out into the world, to be consumed by others who then create their own content, which we may in turn read ourselves, and so it goes on. As a writer I spend a large amount of my time reading, watching and listening to other people’s work, and take inspiration from my favourite writers and influencers to spark my own creativity.
Creating and consuming go hand in hand, but maintaining harmony between the two is a balancing act that can easily tip too far one way and turn you into a content glutton. Here are 5 signs that you need to stop consuming and start creating.
You can spend hours of your day scrolling through social feeds
Whether it’s Facebook, Instagram or Medium, everyone has their vice. I used to have a real issue with resolving to go to bed, doing one last check of my phone, and half an hour later finding myself still on Twitter. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve found some amazing people through social media, but when you passively scroll through your feeds you’re consuming indiscriminately, overloading your brain with information you’ll struggle to retain and probably don’t even need, and most importantly you’re not contributing anything yourself. Be more mindful of how you’re using social media, and try to cut down on the endless, aimless scrolling.
You’re easily distracted by phone notifications
If you can be distracted from what you’re doing by any random ping from your phone, it’s time to take a step back. Breaking off from work to check a message turns into answering a message, which quickly turns into a whole conversation, and by the time you go to pick up where you left off you’ve completely lost your train of thought. When I need to get stuff done I leave my phone on silent and out of both sight and reach, so I’m not tempted to check every notification as it arrives.
Your TBR list is the length of your arm, but your scheduled post list is empty.
I’m always bookmarking stuff on Medium, and am subscribed to several awesome newsletters that flag the most interesting stuff they’ve read around the internet this week. I get to read some really amazing and thought-provoking stuff this way, but sometimes if I only have time to read or write, I’ll be tempted to go for the lower-effort option of reading. I need to get better at accepting when my ‘to-read’ list has got out of hand and cutting it down so I actually have time to write.
Your brain feels like a tornado of other people’s soundbites
When you over-consume you can get overwhelmed by everyone else’s voices, ideas and opinions. I’m constantly reading to stay informed, educate myself on new topics or get alternative perspectives on things, but sometimes I reach a point where I’ve got so much information buzzing around in my head I can’t organise my thoughts to write myself. When this happens, I find the best way to deal is to put down your phone, turn off your laptop and take a break. Going for a walk or planning out some blog posts with a pen and paper work really well for me.
Comparison is causing writer’s block
This one’s the killer. Do you ever read an article or blog post that is just so insightful, eloquently written or inspiring that you feel like throwing the towel in right now because you’ll never be that perfect? Yeah, me too. And when you’re in that headspace, most of the things you read will add to it. I truly believe that the best way to get past writer’s block is to stop wallowing, stop comparing and write through it, even if it’s total crap. Remember, you don’t have to click publish…
Do you ever feel the strain of consuming vs creating? Let me know what you think!