What ever you do, don't read this post.

Couldn't resist, right? But it's more than just a tricksy headline. Are you sure you really haven't got better things to do? Something more constructive?

Chances are if you're reading this blog you consider yourself a creative – someone who produces stuff. I certainly like to think of myself like that. But here's a wake-up call – how many novels do you read compared to how many you write? How many TV shows do you watch compared to how many you produce? How many paintings do you enjoy versus how many you paint? When you do a balance sheet like that it doesn't look good.

I know it's a little unfair – culture is far easier to consume than it is to create - but it's sobering to think of it in those terms. You can imagine Picasso's, Chopin's or Shakespeare's account looking a little more healthier than ours.

You have a choice – chances are you've consumed more than enough stories and material to last you a lifetime – and everyone and everything is gunning for a little more of your attention – here's some tips for keeping the wolves of consumption at bay.

Buy a Netbook, not an iPad

You see a keyboard on that oversized iPhone? Me neither. And there's a reason for that – it's designed for internet potatoes. Compulsive creators need something to write with – you press much more on that screen other than the 'one click order' button and you'll be demented in minutes.

Take a notebook, not a novel, to bed

Rather than reading to relax, try writing to relax. Half an hour with a pencil before you go to sleep with no pressure to produce anything will actually get your creative juices flowing.

Buy a Blackberry, not an iPhone (or HTC)

Same reason for not buying an iPad – believe me, I've tried typing stuff on those little screens – even texting is a drag.

Cancel your cable TV

You know it makes sense. You can always catch those 'must see' shows on DVD if you must see – even then, you'd be better working on your own teleplay.

In truth, if you still haven't finished your manuscript you should cancel everything until you have.

Sort out that create/consume balance. You've only got one life to live.

Anybody got any other choices a compulsive creator should make?


  1. You're right. I should be writing in bed, rather than reading. I've been working hard at writing while on break at work, but there are many other opportunities where the writing can take precedence.

    Thanks for the reminder.

  2. Hey Jeff - great to hear from you and thanks for your comment. Hope the writing is going well. I can imagine my reading vs writing remark being a slightly contentious one, as I think it's taken that a writer needs to read a lot. Suggesting that someone should read less is not really what I'm about - it's just a question of balance. A writer obviously needs to spend as much of his time writing as possible, and as you say, looking for opportunities where the writing can take precedence.

  3. Even though we have dish, I cut back my tv watching to about zilcho because I wanted more time to write and read. And I don't have to worry b/c I don't even have a cell phone yet, never mind a blackberry or an ipad! :)

  4. @Laura - you don't have a cell-phone? But how do you survive?! I can remember the days I didn't have one, but I can't remember how I coped. Insidious little things, aren't they?

  5. Aargh, too late, I read it! I don't have TV, only DVDs and Love Film, which means I watch stuff that's properly written. Much better for the creative muse.
    And I'm almost as much of a phone Luddite as Laura. My phone was given to me by my mother-in-law's friend who decided to modernise a little. It's so antiquated that an 80-year-old lady didn't want it. Even now, it's not really part of my life - I have it in case I need to call the AA. I don't even know the number.

  6. @Roz - mmm, the posts from you and Laura are making me feel that my credentials as a serious writer are compromised by my ownership of a fancy phone! Maybe after my contract is over I'll go old-school. Maybe.

  7. Move your body in some way every day you can. There have been many studies done showing the connection between large muscle exercise and mental sharpness.

    I have experienced this connection quite vividly for myself.

  8. Roz, I love the qualifier of so antiquated an 80-year-old doesn't want it.

    Another advantage of all these choices is that you literally consume less: cable and the fancy phones are expensive. That money has to come from somewhere, and for some it's working extra hours that could have been spent writing.

  9. @Cassandra - welcome to my blog and thank you so much for commenting. I couldn't agree more about physical activity and mental sharpness. I so need to get me some of that large muscle exercise. Here goes...

    @Ann - thanks for reading and commenting, Ann. You're quite right of course, trimming your lifestyle so that it's less expensive can lead to more hours for writing. I've managed to achieve that a few times, but it's easy to let it slide and let the base-line cost of your living creep upwards.


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