Create > Consume
Updated: Apr 25, 2020
Grab a pen and paper.
Seriously, go on. I'll wait right here.
Awesome! Now that you're back, I want you to draw a line down the middle and split your page into two columns. On one side list out everything that you have consumed over this last week this. On the other write down everything you have created during that same time frame.
Most of you, like I once did, are noticing just how much of your life is spent consuming instead of creating.
Watching TV, YouTube - consuming
Listening to Music, Podcasts, Audiobooks - consuming
Scrolling through Social Media - consuming
Browsing the Internet - consuming
Shopping - consuming
Reading - consuming
In Western society, this is honestly to be expected. Consumption (mindless consumption, if I may say) is praised in our society. Notice the shift the Industrial Revolution had on our culture; supply exceeded demand, resulting in promotion and advertisement encouraging consumption.
Now consumption is not the "bad guy."
We must consume food and water to nourish our bodies. We purchase shelter, transportation, clothing, and hygiene items to care for our basic needs. We consume books (and other media forms) to gain wisdom and knowledge.
Consume to Create.
The idea is not to avoid consumption, but instead to consume with intention. To consume with a purpose, based on ideology.
Consume with intention as to inspire creativity.
Now, as mentioned, we also consume and purchase goods. Not only to cover our needs, but because they are useful to us or bring us joy. My motto is simple: quality > quantity. Even on a tight budget, I consume ethically, based on my values, from companies that are transparent about their business practices and philosophy. But that's a post for another day.
Now, does everything have to be consumed with the purpose of inspiring creativity? Not necessarily. Let's look at something that was probably on your list: watching a movie.
I will sit down to watch a good film with my family just for the enjoyment of it. The key is that I am still being mindful and intentional in my consuming; I choose a movie with intention and then remain fully engaged and undistracted while watching.
I liked this concept mentioned in this Medium article. Think of creating and consuming as a continuum. There are grey areas, and some things fall closer to one end or the other while many wind up somewhere in between.
Think of anything that you follow a recipe or pattern for. The result is purely your own, and indeed involves creative work; however, you were also guided by another's original creative work. This doesn't make one "better" than the other, it just goes to show that there are different areas in creative work that one can be in.
The same goes for consuming. Let's go back to the movie example for a moment. Depending on how you are watching there is opportunity for creative inspiration. I not only enjoy what I'm watching, but often analyze and am inspired by it.
I'll give an example. I recently watched Sight and Sound's productions of Jesus and Moses (okay...so I watched them a few times). I watched, not only to be engaged in a good story, but to inspire my own creative work. I was analyzing how the characters were balanced and portrayed, the script-writing, the balance between creative liberty and the biblical story, the blocking of characters, the costumes, the musical synergy, the practical effects, etc. All the while I was thinking of how I could incorporate what I was viewing into my own creative endeavors.
When you read good writing, doesn't it inspire your own writing?
When you listen to good talent, doesn't it inspire your singing or playing?
When you eat good food, doesn't it make you want to "try this at home"?
Create More. Consume Less.
You probably do more creative work than you think. When you make a meal, even if it's following a recipe, you're creating. When you work out you're creating a healthier you. When you clean, you are creating a more hygienic and beautiful living space.
We are innately creative. This should be no surprise. After all, we are made in the image of God-our Creative Father-who spoke the all of nature into existence. Who formed man from the dust of the earth. Who, as David said, "Formed my inward parts and knitted me together in my mother's womb" (Ps 139:13, paraphrased). He created the rainbow. He robed Himself in flesh and walked among His creation as a man, creating live and bringing healing and restoration. The Scriptures are full of His creative work and the creative work that He inspires in His children. Think of Noah and the ark, Joseph and the plan to save Egypt, Solomon and the temple.
And yet, sometime between childhood and adulthood creativity is often lost or hidden away. Think about this. Every child will tell you he or she is an artist, but yet how many middle or high schoolers will tell you the same? What happened to cause us to let go of the creative in each of us?
Revive that creativity today. Revive that imagination.
Try something. It doesn't have to be perfect. In fact, embrace the imperfection of the journey. This isn't about mastering a craft, it's about operating in the creative. It's about balancing the consuming with creative work.
The more you begin to operate in creative work the more creative ideas will begin to flow.
The Goal: Create more than I consume.
What will you create today?
Brainstorm how you can engage in creative work.
Keep track of what you are doing that's creative each day.
Before you consume ask yourself: "What is the intention for, or purpose behind, this consumption?"