What Changed When I Stopped Consuming and Started Creating

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“Creative thinking inspires ideas. Ideas inspire change.” – Barbara Januszkiewicz

I grew up like every other teenager of the 80’s and 90’s – watching MTV. I was obsessed with Madonna, moshed my teen spirit with Nirvana, then entered the dark side of pop with Nine Inch Nails. I loved all of it; the music, the visuals, the performance. I decided that I too was going to become a rock star and perform on MTV.

So I set off to work to make that dream come true.

Until this artistic awakening, I had taken lessons in piano and dance, but doing my own thing was a completely different ball game. There were no notes to follow, there was no choreography to obey. I needed to decide for myself what the notes and the steps were going to be. This required a whole new way of thinking, seeing and listening.

Consuming is easy. Getting inspired is easy. Following instructions is easy. But when you go from a consumer to a creator, you start to think about things you never thought about before.

It is equally overwhelming and exciting. I wasn’t always sure I was going to be able to do it. Yet, when I shifted from a consumer of music to a creator, my life changed profoundly.

For the first time, I started to listen to things I’d never listened to before, like the drums. Not just the beat that made me dance, but really, the sounds and the sequences.

For the first time I started to really appreciate the power of the bass guitar, and the huge part it played in music. How was it possible that I’d never really heard it before?

I started to pay attention to what all the different instruments were doing and it blew my mind.

Music opened up to me on a whole new level. It was richer and more fascinating, and I started to appreciate it so much more than I had ever before. It became more layered and multi-dimensional.

Becoming a creator and not a consumer turned me from a receiver into a producer. Life didn’t just flow over me, but I became keenly aware of what was happening all around me. Everything became potential material for my creative pursuits.

I became an active gatherer-hunter of ideas. Ideas kept popping in my head all the time, and I had to capture them quickly before they would escape me. I started to carry a notebook with me everywhere.

Everything became interesting. I collected stories, moments, feelings, anecdotes, quotes, and jokes. I started spotting interesting names, logos, and colors everywhere. My notebook became my favorite thing, my treasure trove.

Eventually, I did reach my dream of being on MTV. It didn’t happen by luck or by accident. It happened because of this shift.

Maybe I could have been one of the hopefuls, joining the queues of talent shows, thinking that someone would create me. Most likely I would’ve not done very well because no one can create anyone, we have to create ourselves.

Music was my first muse. It taught me everything about being a creator. It awakened all of my senses and it opened up the world for me. Becoming a creator has changed the way I do everything in life.

The world is so full of stuff that it’s easy to sit back and just consume it. Creating is hard, it quickly makes you aware of your shortcomings and your lack of knowledge.

Yet, moving from a consumer to a creator in every area of life will open your eyes and your senses to so many fascinating things. Everything is a story. Everything can be a seed for an idea.

You will become infinitely curious about life. The world will become richer, and a more interesting place to be. What a beautiful way to move through life, don’t you think?

My Challenge to You

Have a think about all the things that you consume and love. Is it books, music, perfumes, fashion? Maybe you love looking at someone who can dance really well. Or you love eating mother’s cooking. Or perhaps you admire someone who knows how to code, or builds shelves or fixes cars, but you’ve never thought you’d be able to do something like that.

Instead of observing and consuming, I challenge you to pick one of these things and try to become the creator yourself. Ask someone person to show you the ropes. Spend a bit of time on YouTube tutorials. Join Skillshare. Start with something small and simple.

Share your experience in the comments! What changed?

25 thoughts on “What Changed When I Stopped Consuming and Started Creating”

  1. I was woefully inspired by this quote: “If there is something that you seek and you can’t find it, you have to create it. If you’re not inspired by the work you’re doing, create some work that will inspire you.” – Leonard Mattis

    So I went on my journey of learning to create, because I yearn to create something by myself.

    Also, the part about carrying a notebook hits home. That has helped tremendously to the point whereby a pocket notebook has become part of my EDC!

      1. I write. Mainly to get deep thoughts (read: opinions) out of my head.

        Now that I look at what I create, actually there are many! To name a few, business processes, SOPs, sales pitches, millions of presentation decks, food, relationships, etc.

  2. I love and appreciate your perspective. It could have been written by my son who also was truly inspired as an artist and allowed him to grow as a person. I’m glad you followed your passion. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Hi Jessi,

    Thanks for the post, a really interesting article! I’ve found that creating, rather than consuming, gives me far more energy and makes me feel happier, like I’m in touch with something bigger.

    Good luck!
    Stephen

  4. Great insights! I got a flash about scaling my business as a creative project I can consult with other who have done to help me do (team effort). Feels a lot juicier than the mindset I’ve had which has felt tedious and overwhelming with so work to accomplish. Thanks!

  5. Before I was just reading people’s blog and now Im starting to create my own, thinking that I can be my own blog. Thank you for your insights. Truly if you’re just a consumer you won’t be discovering new things about yourself.

    Thank you and more power!
    Bernardine

    1. Welcome to the other side of blogs! :) Writing one instead of reading them makes you appreciate the hard work and vulnerability that goes into blogging but also gives you an amazing chance to connect with people. I hope it goes well!

  6. Thanks for sharing. I totally agree that creating provides much more satisfaction than just consuming.

    One of my main interests is songwriting. The biggest problem I tend to have is that I spend so long reading about how to write better songs that it gets in the way of actually writing!

    I need to find a way to be less of a consumer of information on songwriting and more of a creator of songs.

    I’m also going to check out your book, because I have noticed is that I can usually find time to sit around reading but it’s harder to make time to actually create.

    All the best!

    1. I realise that you wrote that you want to start creating instead of reading about how to do it, but I still need to ask, have you read The War of Art by Steven Pressfield? It is a classic and for good reason, but the reason why I recomend it is because what you are describing in your comment sounds exactly like Resistance (which is basically what the book is about). Anyway, this book gives me these intense urges to CREATE, and it might do the same for you x

  7. I completely agree, Jessi. I had a similar experience with my reading once I started writing – whole new level of appreciation. I reckon this could apply to life in general also, moving from passive consumers to active creators in the design of our lives. Thanks for sharing!

  8. That was an insightful read Jessie. I am currently in the process of shifting from a consumer to a creator. I have consciously made the decision to create more than I consume. When I spent most of my time in consuming mode I thought there would come a day when I would be ‘ready’. I recently realised that this day will never come and ‘creator’ mode comes paved with lots of deliberate practice and trial and error. i completely agree with the line

    ‘The world is so full of stuff that it’s easy to sit back and just consume it. Creating is hard, it quickly makes you aware of your shortcomings and your lack of knowledge’.

    I think that this is why it is so easy for us to consume instead of create. With consuming we don’t have to face our fears and put ourselves out there but in doing so we miss out on experiencing a more fuller and richer life.

    I have often admired talented bloggers and coders. This year I hired a talented coder to teach me to code and I have now began creating written tutorials. I have been blogging on and off up until the start of this year when I committed to writing on average one post a week. I am now in the process of immersing myself more in writing and blogging so I can create more valuable content for my readers.

  9. I’d call myself a 95% consumer and 5% creator. I want to create but in the name of learning, I keep consuming and most times do nothing at all. Guess I get really reluctant becuase I feel I will never grow as much a those I find fascinating grew. I really want to be more of a creator than consumer. You have opened a new chapter in my life. Glad I found this post.

  10. Great article! I am a musician myself and recently renewed my efforts. Not only does your post apply to music but everything in life.. very inspirational!

  11. Jessi,

    Being a musician myself at one time I know what you are going through. I am now on a different path but your advice rings so true. Instead of always consuming information on how to live a better life, I am creating information to help others live a better life.

    Thank you!

    Dan

  12. Girl, thank you!
    This was totally what I needed to hear. I have so many ideas and big plans. I always end up saying “once I learn how to, then I can do…” I seriously stop myself all the time because I don’t feel like I have enough knowledge or experience with something. The truth is, this is the age of information! I get so caught up in the amazing amount of information and learning that I don’t feel capable of participating. I need to just start doing it. I can still consume knowledge and grow and evolve, but I need to stop letting it slow down forward progress. Thank you again, this was perfect!

  13. Very great post! We always say “do what you love, love what you do”, yet we should definitely also create something in the field we love – to inspire others. It all starts with the right decision. The right decision to follow our passions and to start creating something that inspires others to do the same.

  14. I can totally relate. We must be the same age.

    A quote that slapped me and woke me up from a mentor was, “quit bitching and moaning and create something.”

    Since then I’ve left a desk job and joined the trades and build computer networks.

    I’m still doing that but now I’m focusing on designing websites and helping businesses out that I want to work with.

    Let’s keep creating and making the world a little bit better place!

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