A writer writes. They are content producers. But we writers also need to consume.
We consume blog posts, articles, RSS feeds, social media updates and other books.
Research is the golden source of our creativity. It is when obscure and random pieces of information clash and creativity sparks into life.
But what happens if we find ourselves consuming more than we produce?
This is the dilemma I constantly found myself in.
I would read everything I could get my hands on. I listened to every podcast related to writing and self-publishing. Yet I didn’t produce a single word. I had nothing to show for my diligent researching. This went on for more than 2 years.
So why do we over consume?
Because we are distracting ourselves from facing the fear.
It’s the same with eating. If you over consume it’s usually because we are distracting ourselves from something else. Something which is too painful to address so we do something else instead.
We distract ourselves from the underlying key issue we are facing. And in the case of writers who consume too much, it’s because we are typically too afraid to start writing our own words.
Sometimes we tell ourselves we need to do that last piece of research. This is fair enough but at what point will you ever have enough research?
The temptation is to keep searching till you have read every blog post, listened to every podcast and watched every YouTube video on the topic. And only then do you convince yourself you are ready to write.
But the trouble with over consumption is that you don’t have a chance to digest the information properly. You are rushing from one piece of content to the next till you become overwhelmed.
And we all know what happens to writers who get overwhelmed right?
We don’t write.
Bogged down with an overload of information, it becomes tricky to search your way out of the deep forest you have landed in. And sometimes it can become comfortable to stay in that jungle, shaded away from the bright glare of the public who are eagerly waiting for your creative words.
So I now have a new rule to deal with this over consumption:
For every hour I spend writing and producing content, I can give myself an hour to do research and read.
I think this is a fair trade-off.
In this way you are still consuming content but not in a passive way. For every mouthful of words you consume, you now have an hour to chew over and digest the themes and key insights from which you can then create and write your own words.
Often, your words will have a flavour of the things you read (so read wisely!). But this time also allows you to thoroughly check if you understand what you consume.
Key Action Take-Away
Rather than passively consuming content which you may forget about within a week, try to write a short summary about the content you just consumed.
- What ideas did you take away?
- What key insights jumped out at you?
- What did you learn that you can share with someone a few steps behind you?
This is the best way to ensure you are a proactive learner and not a passive consumer. Try implementing this change from today and track your progress. After a week you will see how much more you produced .Indeed this will also shed a light on how much you are consuming (even if you think you are a light consumer).