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Consume less, create more

We have the option to constantly consume and be entertained, so that silent moments of ingenuity have become rare. Spending hours on social media and streaming services instead of making something or thinking feels frictionless. A few months ago, I placed the quote »Consume less, create more« in a photo frame next to my desk - it’s a constant reminder. These are my thoughts on consumption and creativity. An advocacy for creating and for consuming to be inspired.

Breathing in and out
I think of consumption and creativity as being similar to breathing. With consumption we inhale ideas, thoughts, experiences and the work of others. But we can’t just breathe in, we must stop and exhale too. Through creation of any sort we can process the input, combine it with our ideas and breath out the small or large things we have created. Our creativity adds value to this world. Value that can be an inspiration for someone else, if you decided to share your work1. Sometimes, you yourself breath back in a little bit of the air you have just exhaled. You’re influencing yourself through your creativity.

» Often we forget to create something ourselves, because consuming is much more comfortable. «

We learn and grow both while consuming and while creating. Much of what we know and believe was learned trough consumption and external influences. However, I think the most important lessens are thought by doing something yourself. By creating, while being okay with the possibility that the result might be crap - or be brilliant.

Conscious consumption
Consumption is a necessary part of our every day lives. Therefore it is not bad, it’s much more a matter of what we consume and how much. Deliberately choose the content you consume and give your self time without input. We need moments to think and wonder. Prefer inspirational content, that can motivate you to create. Instead of watching a movie in the evening, think about spending some time learning a new skill with YouTube or online courses. Mind, that we shouldn’t stress our self too much to be good or productive or healthy, as we’re all little imperfect humans. Taking some time just relaxing to an entertaining film or scrolling through Instagram is fine too, but the unproductive or unhealthy times should always be under our control and we - and not an automatism - should actively decide to spend the time.

» Choose deliberately what you consume and spend more time on content, that has the potential to inspire you to create. «

I like reading non-fictional books. For a few euro2 you can learn everything an expert knows and thinks about a certain topic. I also love YouTube, Podcasts, Audible, streaming services and spending time on social media. Partially because I want to learn or be inspired, and partially to be entertained. And that’s fine, but during the last months I noticed that I was consuming too much. Instead of being full of energy and drive, I felt more often tired and learned how important a healthy balance between consumption and creativity is. I started using the screen time feature of my phone3 to become aware of how much time I spend on what. I deleted non-essential apps and am instead using browser based versions if possible. This adds some friction to opening Instagram4, YouTube etc. and forces me to use the services more intentionally. I also reduced the amount of accounts I follow on social media and only kept the essential or inspirational ones. And most importantly: I am now leaving myself more time without input, space for creativity.

Being creative
Many people believe they are not creative. A general assumption is that creativity has something to do with art and that if you’re not good at drawing, you’re not creative. I believe those people just haven’t found their way of being creative, because the majority of things can be learned. If you put the time and energy into learning how to draw, you’ll acquire that skill. But if you’re not really good at drawing and you’re not passionate about it - fine, let others draw and find your creative thing. There are endless possibilities to be creative. For me, photography is one of the ways I like to create. And I’m exploring new ways to be creative, like writing. Whether you know exactly how you can be creative or still think, creativity isn’t really your thing: Do stuff, try things out. Make some music, grab a piece of paper and sketch, take random photos, write down your thoughts, talk to strangers, start a side project, play an instrument or do one of the millions of other things I haven’t listed. The key is having the courage to try something new and getting started.

» Most people saying they’re not creative just haven’t found their own way of creating. «

Free yourself of the pressure to create something unique. Embrace the influence of what others do. Consume other people’s work and start creating your own version of it. Don’t look at just one, that would be plagiarism, look at what many people you like are doing. Choose to be influenced by a variety of individuals doing stuff you think is great. Combine aspects, put them in a different frame, add your own story and you’ll have created something that is truly unique. Walk through the world with open eyes and you’ll find creative impulses everywhere. Optimize your consumption to be inspired. Follow some people who are creative in a way you see yourself being creative too on social media. Having role models can be a great source of inspiration, but also listen carefully to your own ideas and the visions you have.

» You’ll notice the more you’re creating, the more you generate your own, unique creative ideas. «

Write them down, we forget so easily and it’s worth keeping and turning them into something. When creating, do the best you can do right now. There’s no need for perfection. If you’re starting something new, the first things you’ll do will suck, and that’s okay. A few months later, you’ll look back and be reminded of how far you have come in the meantime.

» Creativity is about being inspired and being an inspiration. «

The web makes it easy to share what you’re doing. Use it’s potential, share your work1 and you’ll attract a crowd of supporting people. You’ll also start being an inspiration for someone else - I think that’s one of the greatest things you can do: to inspire others.