Lately, I’ve kind of gotten into some bad habits. Instead of waking up a little earlier and writing in my journal first thing or taking some time to create, I’m sleeping late and sometimes I skip the journaling altogether.
Usually I’m a little groggy, and feel like having breakfast, so I tell myself that I’ll just read a chapter of my book (finally got around to reading Wild, which was awesome) or watch an episode of my favourite TV show (currently watching Parks and Rec or Community) or browse Pinterest (I’m new to this and totally addicted) before I pick up my journal.
But then a funny thing happens. One chapter turns into four, then I have to get ready for work. One episode becomes three and I find myself running late. I fall down the rabbit hole that is Pinterest or Instagram and realise half an hour has passed. By the time I pause in whatever I’m doing to consider getting out my journal, I don’t ‘feel’ like journaling and I don’t want to create anymore – if I even have the time.
I used to wake up every morning, grab a cup of coffee and my journal, and spend a blissful hour just writing, thinking, dreaming, creating, and being with myself. Now, I can sometimes go days between journal entries.
The problem, I’ve come to realise, is that I am choosing to consume instead of create, and that’s making it harder and harder to write each morning. Where I once had a daily connection with my own inner wisdom and an endless source of creative ideas and inspiration of my own, I have now created a habit of consuming the ideas of others first. I’ve lost the sound of my own creative voice among the voices of other people.
1. Your ideas are your own
While it’s certainly ok to be influenced and inspired by the work of others, and even ok to steal ideas from others, what’s more important is realising what your own ideas are and expressing them.
If you consume something before you create, there’s no way of knowing if what you are creating is really your own work, or just a reproduction of someone else’s work.
Stealing ideas from others is part of the process of being a creative, but there’s a difference between replicating the work of others, and being inspired by them as you find your own style and voice. Without taking time to just purely create, finding your own voice can be almost impossible.
When I spend half of my morning on Pinterest and Instagram, I soak up all the images and ideas presented to me by others. Sometimes this can spark an idea of my own, but often I find it difficult to come up with my own ideas after absorbing everyone else’s.
Try tapping into your own inner resources and creativity, before consuming the images and ideas of someone else. You can always take inspiration from others later.
2. Make sure you actually do it
It’s too easy to consume. When my morning alarm goes off on my cell phone and I reach to switch it off, Pinterest and Instagram are right there. Sometimes I convince myself that a quick look will help to wake me up. Before I’ve even gotten out of bed, I can spend 30 minutes online. Usually by this point I either run out of time, or find I just don’t want to journal.
The same thing happens when I open my book (or turn on my Kindle), or watch an episode of Parks and Rec. Both of these things leave me wanting more, and it’s all too easy to start the next chapter or watch the next episode. I often find myself running out of time in the morning because I’ve spent my first hour consuming these. I’m not saying reading is bad (I’m not insane) but as someone who used to have a million things to say in the morning, I’m finding that reading first thing is interfering with that. I’m much better reading before bed.
3. Avoid comparisons
I love Pinterest. I honestly don’t know why it took me so long to get on board the Pinterest train. I was quick to jump on Instagram when I started blogging last year, but resisted Pinterest for the better part of a year. As a very visual person, Instagram and Pinterest suit me very well (I’m not a Twitter fan).
But this comes with a problem, especially when I find myself indulging in a little pre-journaling pinning.
I don’t mean for it to happen but it invariably does: I start to compare my work to the work of others.
I see delicately painted journal pages, I see stacks of handmade journals with gorgeous vintage papers and hand-sewn bindings, and look over at my own boring Moleskine journal in dismay. I start to get a serious case of journal envy and before long have absolutely no interest in picking up my pen.
Creative comparison is really a whole other issue for another post, but I can say this: the more you consume the work of others before doing your own, the more you will open yourself up to making comparisons and feeling like your own work isn’t good enough. Create first, consume later.
* * *
I know we all need time to relax or fill the creative well by consuming the ideas and products of other people. There is nothing quite like sinking into a great book, or catching up on an episode of your favourite TV show. I know that I wouldn’t be half as inspired, or have made the most amazing connections with others, if I hadn’t been reading the blogs of others, and participating in Instagram and Pinterest.
Ultimately, it’s important to find a balance between creating and consuming, and consuming in sure a way that it doesn’t interfere with your own creative genius. For me, that means journaling first thing in the morning.
How do you make creating a priority in your life?