The Tension Between Consumption and Creation of Content (a.k.a. spending time reading Facebook doesn't help with writing)
Meanwhile, the total number of words I'd written was...
There is this fundamental tension between consuming content and creating content.
It has nothing directly to do with the Internet, of course. Long before the Internet it was easy to be distracted from writing by TV, radio, books... or just conversations with friends and family, or projects around the house or office.
Distractions have always been numerous... the Internet just does what it does best by removing the middlemen and making it even easier to be distracted.
My friend Donna Papacosta once posted an image on Facebook that I printed out and taped up on my window frame right at eye level that said simply this:
97% not getting distracted
by the Internet
I see that every day when I sit in my home office, with the ever-present reminder that the key word is:
and the need to do that.
Two years ago I wrote a post that took the rather draconian line of "Every Minute You Spend Consuming Content Is A Minute You Are Not Creating Content".
That is, of course, very true. But there is the reality that sometimes we NEED to consume content. Sometimes it is because we are researching something we want to write about. Sometimes it is just simply that we want to relax... that we need to give our minds a break.
I've come to appreciate over many years that there is strong value in stepping away from the creation of content to give yourself a break... and often when you then return to the creating you return refreshed and renewed. Reading a good book or seeing a movie or reading good articles online can often lead to new lines of writing or thinking. There is value in staying up with what friends are doing - and sharing what you are doing.
The trick is trying to find the balance. There is a natural tension between time spent on consumption vs creation. Too much consumption leaves little time for creation. Too much creation can leave you without the benefits of some consumption.
Somewhere in between lies the point we need to achieve.
I don't have the answer... each day I'm trying to find that balance. Some nights like tonight I don't do so well... other days I do.