media consumption and creative balance

I am a huge consumer of media. Having internet access at work, at home, and on my phone makes it too easy to check news sites and blogs multiple times a day, to follow links and track down sources, to read tangential stories, to always seek more and more information about any given topic.

I like to think of my participation in the internet as a curatorial role—sifting through articles and blog posts and sharing the ones that appeal to me, particularly those that address topics commonly overlooked in major media outlets. This is my primary use for Facebook, day-to-day, and I’ve received positive feedback for what I share. But at a certain point, I spend so much time and energy sifting and consuming that there isn’t enough left to produce anything of my own.  I’ve become so accustomed to checking media outlets regularly that if I go a day without it, I get anxious that something very important has happened and I have missed it. I think my media usage is probably approaching addiction in this respect.

It’s so easy to look outward for knowledge, and there is so much entertainment and stimulation to be had out there, that I neglect my own ideas and creativity in the process.  In January I wrote a post on the need for balance between input and output in terms of creative expression, and I realize now that I have not been following my own advice. In the last year, for all I have learned about other people and their pursuits, I have only dabbled in creating my own art and music. I haven’t written anything that wasn’t purely academic since early February.

So, in an effort to correct the imbalance, I’m going to try to cut my media consumption fairly severely and to redirect that energy into creative pursuits. Sure, I will miss some good blog posts and news stories. There will be knowledge out there that I did not gain. But there is knowledge within, too, that can only be accessed by quiet introspection and by providing avenues for it to come out.

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4 responses to “media consumption and creative balance

  1. Yes! It’s overwhelming. I am plagued by the exact same issue, too much consumption, not enough creation. At least not nearly enough writing. It’s hard to balance everything, and I’ll be curious to know how you do it, if you ever figure it out…

  2. I’m figuring out that that my physical environment is very important to the kinds of activities I engage in. Coffeeshops are generally very conducive for me to get ‘work’ done (whether it’s academic work or writing for my own benefit), but there is one near my house where I have spent too much time on less-than-productive internet exploration, and now I have a difficult time settling into work there.

    Like many people, it is harder for me to focus when I’m at home, but I figured out last semester that if I set up a certain table in the middle of the room and face a certain direction, I can stick to a task for a longer period of time than anywhere else in my apartment. I think it’s the change of perspective– I’m used to sitting right next to the window and facing the street at a certain angle; sitting on the other side of the room and facing the window head-on seems to be enough of a shift that it breaks me out of my usual habits. I never sit at that table for any reason other than getting serious work done.

    So I’m trying to cultivate little sacred spaces that seem to work well for me, and to use them only for a specific, focused, productive purpose. There’s a certain bench in a park near my house that works well, and a spot on the other lake where I like to lay my blanket, and certain spots in certain rooms at the library, and certain seats in certain coffeeshops around town. Looking back I realize I had sacred spots like that around Denver, too (I used to see you at one of them, Alyssa!).

    It’s perhaps the same principle behind the idea that if you have trouble sleeping, you should make sure that you only use your bed for sleeping, not reading or watching tv or anything else, so that your unconscious mind automatically goes into sleep mode as soon as you hit the sheets.

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