I'm starting to see my activities as either creative or consumptive. That is, at any given moment, I'm either creating original content of some form, or I'm consuming content created by someone else. For example, as a grad student I may set up an experiment, analyze data, draw a figure or prepare a presentation. Those are all creative tasks. On the other hand, I also read the literature and listen to presentations from colleagues. Those are consumptive tasks. Note that I'm not using the word creative to mean "clever," but simply something that produces new content, which may be total crap or pure gold.
Outside of work, a similar distinction can be made. Writing this post is creation; reading your posts is consumption. Commenting on your posts is creation; reading your comments is creation. Watching kittens on YouTube is consumption; filming your cats for YouTube is creation. I never really looked at my actions this way until I started writing here. I'm not sure why, but finding myself attempting to create regularly in a space I previously only consumed certainly played a role.
|Some acts of creation more illicit than others|
Here's the great conclusion I've come to so far: creating original content is hard. Count me among the billions who have said "Ah, I could do that if I only tried" to something that I might be able to do, but severely underestimated the amount of effort and time that went into the creative process. Furthermore, it's very easy to burn out on creation. I originally thought it'd be great to put up daily posts, but that would come only at the compromise of quality, and I'd eventually stop. At some point, I need to consume some other people's content for both a break and inspiration.
That brings me to my final point: a schedule is creation's friend. I admit I'm pretty terrible at keeping a regimented schedule. Between procrastination and anti-authoritarian impulses, I'll find a way to do anything other than what I scheduled. But I'm trying, I'm really trying, by using very loosely defined "creating blocks" and "consuming blocks" without getting too specific with what needs to get done in that time period. Hopefully this solves a lifelong issue for me: without a set time for creation and a set time for consumption, I burn out after a short period of time. Then I find myself believing I could do anything, if I only tried.