On Consumption and Production

Early this year, I set a goal to write more on my blog. I came up with a long list of topics I could write about, constantly adding to it when I thought of new posts to write. I had a vision of writing daily, sharing personal struggles and successes and growing a community. I’d write about the web development things I’m learning, the conferences I attend, and resources I find helpful or useful. I’d write a post a month about what I’d done the last month because my memory is horrible and I wanted to be able to look back at it. Mostly, honestly, I wanted to show up and be seen.

On Consumption and Productivity

Over the last year, I wrote a few posts and saw a little growth in traffic. I attended Write/Speak/Code, a conference aimed at getting women writing, speaking and contributing to open source projects. I left that conference feeling pretty excited about writing more and even more excited to have been introduced to the Pixar story arch. I added more topics to my list of blog post topics.

Today is the day after Black Friday and I’m visiting my brother’s in Pittsburgh. I didn’t go Black Friday shopping, but consumption is in the air and in my inbox with newsletters and updates about all of the sales and specials. Of course, we also just had Thanksgiving — and I have just finished the Whole30 challenge a few days ago. (If you are unfamiliar with Whole30, it is a diet of sorts in which you eat whole foods for 30 days, excluding sugar, alcohol, legumes, dairy, and grains.) It definitely made me more aware of my food consumption.

Today we have all just been hanging out, watching TV, and snuggling with the pets. I had plenty of time to be productive today. And I was a little, as I started building the flexbox tool that I’ll be using as part of my flexbox talk in December (more on that later). But that’s really not the point. As I sat on the couch, I found myself in a very familiar loop checking all of the social media things from Twitter, Facebook, Slack, Instagram, etc. over and over. I’d read many of the Facebook group messages, the statuses of people who I’ve never met in my life, all with the idea in the back of my mind that I wanted to write a blog post today.

As I sat on my brother’s couch, I went into information gathering mode. I’ve come to learn this is how I tend to deal with stress and anxiety and uncertainty. I read articles about how to be a better WordPress blogger, how to monetize a blog, how to get more traffic, and on and on as if one of the articles was going to suddenly grace me with the ability to crank out a perfectly written blog post.

I even started researching Danielle LaPorte’s Desire Map planners which is a particular kind of planner that starts with how you want to feel in your life and set goals based on that, the idea being that often our goals aren’t what we want — what we want is the feeling we get from them. They are beautiful planners. And they are spiral bound with gold accents, I mean, how could I not? (I didn’t)

But as I looked at them and read reviews and looked at the #desiremap hashtag on Instagram, I began thinking about how the new year is coming up and how I love this time of year because of the goal setting and planning. It’s fun. It makes me feel like I’m doing something, but without actually doing the thing. Am I even making any sense right now? It’s 1:15 am. I should probably be sleeping.

It’s kind of like how I’ve been feeling lately about learning web development. Don’t get me wrong: of course learning all of the things is important. That’s not what I’m trying to say. What I am trying to say is how do you strike the balance between learning to do the thing and actually just doing the freaking thing?

It’s making me consider maybe not even setting any hard goals. No, that’s probably not a good idea. What about going on a social media fast for 30 days? Maybe…

I think for me, as far as blogging goes, to write in public feels extremely vulnerable. There’s the fear that I don’t write well enough. People might judge me. I might say something wrong or stupid or I’ll make grammatical mistakes. It won’t be organized enough. It’ll be too self-indulgent. What is even the point? Am I the only one who thinks these things?

Anyway, for as long as I need to, I’ll also continue to summon the voices of a few of my friends who tell me “just publish it.”

There. Another post published.

2 Comments on “On Consumption and Production

  1. It’s the act of being vulnerable that makes good writing.

  2. “What I am trying to say is how do you strike the balance between learning to do the thing and actually just doing the freaking thing?”

    Sounds like me, too. I can’t remember where I read it – probably another essay on productivity somewhere, but it was about input vs. output. Having ADHD, I can’t get enough input. My brain craves it. But when my output is zero, I something needs to give.

    I did a social media fast from January 1 until mid-February. I will say it tamed my Comparison Monsters a bit, though I missed looking at all of the things creative people on Instagram, etc. were creating. Output didn’t really improve, but I think it quieted me down a bit.

    In the end, I realized social media fasting alone wasn’t enough for me specifically… I ended up on more blogs (instead of what I meant to do which was start my own). When I try a media fast again I’m doing to add blogs to the list – aside from this one, of course. 😉

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