I want to make things. That has been clear to me for most of my life. For years I wasn’t happy with my creative output, which led me to wonder what I was doing wrong.
About a year ago I stumbled across the thought of What if I prioritize creating over consuming? That question has been my guide when deciding what I spend my free time doing.
Do I want to read this book or write a novel?
Do I want to read this comic or draw a comic?
Do I want to watch this TV show or write a script for my own show?
Do I want to play this game or make on my own game?
Posing the question as consume this or create that makes it easy to decide. If my goal is to create more stuff, then the answer is obvious.
Priority means doing one thing before the other. That means creating something before consuming. Before reading at night, I make sure to have written, even if it is only for ten minutes. Writing something is more important to me than reading the next chapter in a book. And, most days, I have the time to create and consume, which is a win-win.
The challenge is that creating is almost always more challenging than consuming. For example, watching a TV show is easy. It requires little effort beyond sitting and staring. On the other hand, writing a script for a TV show is difficult. It requires learning the format and structure of a TV script. It requires imagining the characters, settings, and plot. It requires actually writing the damn thing.
I’d rather have written a script for a show that’ll probably never get made than watch a TV show. The feeling of creating is incredibly rewarding. When I got lost in what I am creating, it’s a surreal experience. I can picture the places and the characters. I can see the future. I can see the past. It’s surreal.
What I am talking about is prioritizing, not replacing. I am not advocating foregoing consumption any art or entertainment. Books, movies, TV shows, games, podcasts—they can be incredibly inspiring, entertaining, and educating. More often than not, something I consume gets my brain working in a way that gets me thinking and influences what I create.
It’s about creating before consuming.
Over the last three months, I have gotten a handle on prioritizing creating over consuming. Now begins the journey of trying to create things that people actually like.