Your Creative Metabolism #1 - Balancing Consumption With Production

When moving from good to great, creatives need to be conscious of their consumption habits. An imbalance of input vs. output can lead to some major issues. This isn’t a problem that can be solved prescriptively. This takes a measure of intra-personal intellect.

The good news is that you have the ability to control how much goes in and how much comes out. @@Do you have the discipline to balance your creative diet and keep your mind healthy?@@

Overconsumption and Underproduction

The issue of more input than the appropriate output is likely the most common imbalance for both food and the creative process. And it makes since. Our minds are wired to overconsume. In earlier times, it functioned as a perfect survival mechanism.

Eat, eat, eat: because you never know when your next meal will come.

Observe, learn, study: because what you know about the world will be the difference between life and death if your primary survival strength is the ability to problem solve.

But now we live in a time of overabundance (and I speak for those of us in first world countries). We have so much food that we have to throw most of it away. We have so much information that reading a newspaper is more information than many people got in their lifetime just a few hundred years ago.

Our minds are as addicted to data as it is to fatty foods. We weren’t built for this.

But we were built to problem solve. And we are sentient. Because we can, to an extent, adjust our behaviour based on our environment, we have to learn to limit our input. If we don’t, we can become sluggish and weighed down rather than lean and quick.

If you put too much in, you’ll “store fat.” But really, what you want to be doing is digesting what you put in. That digestion process — analysis of what you experience to get the most of it — is the most efficient use of what you put in. Otherwise, you’re going to get diminishing returns.

Underconsumption and Overproduction

The problem of underconsumption can be just as harmful as overconsumption. Creativity doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Everything we make is built on the shoulders of prior experiences. The creative mind feeds on outer stimuli and processes it so that it can output something new. @@If we don’t feed our creativity, it regresses.@@

Pushing yourself to create without properly filling your creative well can lead to the lack of ideas, unoriginality, and art or products that are uninspired and hollow.

It’s your responsibility to seek out inspiration. You may find it in a film or a song. You may find it in a book or magazine. You may even find it at your local diner. Wherever you find it, you need it to feed your muse.

Sometimes, in the effort to get the work done, we deprive ourselves of the content and experiences we need to keep our ideas fresh. We assume that if we just stop wasting time on comics, or movies, or our favourite video game, we’ll finally move to a new level of creativity.

Learn where the line is between wasting time and finding inspiration. I can’t tell you where that line is for you. You need to observe your own behavior and make adjustments. Actively give yourself permission to consume the creativity of others just like you decide when to stop.

Striking The Right Balance

So where does this leave you? How are you supposed to know when you’ve properly balanced your consumption with production?

Below are some actions steps that you can take to help you with this concept. Again, you need to observe your own behavior and habits in order find what’s right for you. This isn’t prescriptive. You have to personalize your own diet.

1. Set boundaries on your consumption. Give yourself permission to consume, but also decide when to cut the cord for the day.

2. Get plenty of creative exercise. Make sure you’re burning off the content and experiences you consume. This will make you a stronger, leaner creative.

3. When you do consume, make sure you’re consuming great content. Consuming high quality content and experiences yields a higher quality of creative output (more on this next week).

This will take a bit of work to get right. So, here’s one definite thing you can do to today to help you get started:

Buy a notebook and write down your thoughts about the content you consume and the experiences you have on a daily basis.

Writing down your thoughts about what you experience is a great way aid the digestive process. If you find that you your thoughts a too scattered to record, it may be a sign of information overload and over consumption. If you don’t have anything in you, you may have an under consumption issue.

What About You?

I hope this was helpful. If so, please share it with someone who might need it.

How do you balance your creative input and output?

What do you do to make sure you’re digesting the content you consume rather than just “storing fat?”

Leave a comment below and let me know!