I’ve been thinking a lot about the benefits and drawbacks of being a consumer vs a producer after reading a very thought-provoking article from Tynan called Be a Producer.
For many years I was almost in a constant state of inspiration. I had an insatiable desire to create and share, mostly through music.
I’ve always been bent more towards the producer end and less of the consumer end of things anyway, but I’ve noticed it slipping more as time goes on.
How and why does this happen?
CONSUMPTION IS RESISTANCE
In times of stress, a lot of us tend to end up consuming a lot more: movies, video games, TV…anything to take our minds off of what we really want to do. This is just Resistance.
With too much consumption, we get rusty and it gets harder each day to get to back to our real work.
With too much production, we stagnate. We also need to be fed a steady stream of inspiration in order to create; this comes from learning Conscious Consumption.
In my experience, a good ratio that works for me is 80% producing to 20% consuming. This ensures that I am putting out a steady stream of work while giving myself plenty of room for inspiration from Conscious Consumption.
My new experiment for the coming next few months is to post something every day on my site. I’m looking to see what quality of work I can produce, what kind of people it attracts, and just to add significantly to my body of work.
WHY BE SO CONCERNED?
Some people who read this are going to wonder why am I so concerned with my ratios of producing vs consuming. Whether you choose to produce or consume is a conscious choice, but I’d wager that these people are probably very content being mostly consumers and only producing for other people when told to (i.e. a job). After graduating from some school, they never really developed the discipline of producing just because they want to. As Tynan said in his post, whether you produce or whether you consume is mostly a matter of preference.
QUALITY OF CONSUMPTION
From past experience, I’ve discovered that I can ramp up my production with very little consumption. For instance, from being inspired by a particular piece of art I can ride a large wave of quality production for quite a long time. An example is when I first heard “Mustaches Wild” from KARP, particularly the first song ‘Dueling Banshees‘ in ’94. Not only did it completely changed the way I thought about and interacted with music, it was the impetus for basically my next three bands before the effect wore off.
Now that is quality consumption.
PRODUCING FORCES YOU TO INTERACT WITH OTHERS
As a solid bonus, producing helps you grow as a person by forcing you to interact with others. Consumption is safe, and often lonely. Spend a few bucks, get a blip of enjoyment and no one but you has to know. You can be in a black hole and consume till the end of time, but with production there is no follow through unless you publish (share) your work in some way.
I can’t even count the amount of people Heidi and I met and the things we learned when we randomly started a health food blog that ran from 2006-2010. We made a business out of it, met so many amazing people, changed our lives and taught ourselves how to write for an audience. Now there are hundreds and possibly thousands of people out there that know my work but I don’t know who they are.
That’s a weird feeling if you’ve never had it.
In the end, producing is not only way more fulfilling than consuming, but it gives you a body of work that continues to grow as you grow, leaving you a legacy and giving you something you can exchange for money to make a career out of for life.
Of course, I could’ve spent all that time just reading blogs instead of creating one…and gotten close to nothing out of it. But I digress…
Heidi has written an awesome piece on fighting for your right to Produce. It certainly was a kick in my ass and got me to write this post tonight even though it’s 3 AM, and even though I’m tired from writing music for the last 2 hours and I have to get up early to take someone to an appointment. Now that’s a love for producing.