Consumption Begets Creation

I’m closing in on a decade of keeping this blog around. What started out as a self-marketing mechanism on the side has become more of a sketchpad of thoughts and opinions, a playground and practice area for communication, and occasionally a tool for career progression1. I’ve tried and failed to build a broad audience, but I do have family and friends and work acquaintances who provide regular positive feedback.

I was reminded of this when reading this short article encouraging more creation. The suggestion echoes a universal value: that it’s better to create than to simply consume. Certainly, it’s a common reason that people get into software development to begin with, and this emphasis on creation is arguably a cornerstone in our modern knowledge economy. The original explosion of blogging—remember when that was a novel activity?—rested upon the ideal that anybody has something to share to the, argh, blogosphere.

As it turns out, that encouragement is an important source of motivation. There is no consumption without creation of course, but creators also tend to not go very far without engaged consumers, and the relationship is more symbiotic than just causal. Hence, the first wave of blogging left behind vast swaths of abandoned Geocities and Tumblr blogs; YouTube channels get spun up with a handful of videos then abruptly end; podcasts peter out after a couple of episodes. When the bar of entry to create and distribute content is mostly just time, there will naturally be a lot more of it, which makes it so much harder to rise above the noise.

Which ultimately means that the hard part isn’t just getting started creating something, but to persist through that difficult period where the creation just isn’t very good, nor an audience available to maintain motivation. As I’m not at all good—or that interested anymore—in marketing myself, my only suggestion is to make the act of creation a habit, something that can be naturally practiced and iterated upon without requiring that extrinsic motivation.

  1. I really dislike the LinkedIn-ubiquitous term “thought leader”.

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