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Creation > Consumption

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I’ve been thinking a lot about the way I live my life and the volume at which I consume vs create.

Consumption for me typically falls heavily in the realm of ideas, knowledge, and of course, social media. My product consumption is fairly low, a conscious choice I made a few years ago to be more deliberate in my purchases and where items I purchase are produced.

With the pandemic and politics this year I’ve found myself even more cautious about my consumption. I’ve shopped less this year than I ever have in an effort to protect workers (my amazon purchases are down over 50% this year compared to 2019). I’ve narrowed down where I consume news in an effort to avoid biases, whether by the publications themselves or via algorithms.

What I have increased is my consumption of content. I’ve read a lot more, with a heavy focus on deep learning and understanding the world around me. I’ve also leaned heavily on social media to get a grasp of the lives of Black people in America. My consumption rates of novel stimuli skyrocketed.

In the midst of all of this, I found myself yearning to make more. I launched Black Equality Resources, which is valuable, but didn’t quite scratch the itch. While helpful, it’s extraordinarily factual and lacks much creativity. My realism drawings, while seemingly creative, have felt like a study in methodology and technique. Then I stumbled across this quote:

“When a creative artist is fatigued, it is often from too much inflow, not too much outflow.”

Julia Cameron

YES! This. So much of this is exactly what I was dealing with!

I, like many of us in recent months, feel like I’ve been consuming from a fire hose. I became a human xerox machine. Resharing important information and reproducing photos in drawing form. My outflow wasn’t really outflow, it was just recirculation.

So in an effort to be more intentional, I started to make some shifts. I really focused on active vs passive consumption.

My phone has been put away. Unless I need it for something active like research or direct communication with another person, I don’t use it. Adios social media!

If I do research, I take notes so I actually retain the information and I’m trying to push myself to use that information for posts here or on my agency’s insights page.

I’m taking time to “journal” each night. It’s really just a brief recap of my day, but it’s creating. I’ve also started revisiting old things I’ve made, whether its things I’ve written or drawn or crafted at some point in my life. Some of it feels so foreign. Where did it come from? Interestingly, it all came before the days of social media.

It hasn’t been long since I started this new endeavor, but I am already feeling the effects. My mind wanders more frequently now, imagining new things to make, connecting the dots between seemingly unrelated topics. I often just sit, something I did all the time when I was younger. I feel less stressed and generally more motivated.

I don’t know where this will lead to, but now I know to ration what I consume so that I have mental energy left to create.