How much should you be consuming vs creating?
The estimated reading time for this post is 3 minutes
We creative peeps loooove seeking inspiration. Oh, God bless the Pinterest boards, right? I personally create private boards for each branding project or small projects. There's a lot of value to it, otherwise it wouldn't have become so popular. But how much is actually too much? When it blocks you.
The value of inspiration
I love Harvard stories and researches because they have facts funding them. Anyway, we could say it's common sense that nothing is new, everything is reinvented. When a fruit rots on earth's bed, it provides nutrients for another to grow instead. It's cyclical.
In the "Why inspiration matters" article in Harvard's website, it's laid out that, according to two Psychologists, Todd M. Trash and Andrew J. Elliot, Inspiration has three main qualities.
Evocation means the inspiration comes unintentionally.
We are limited beings, therefore, inspiration can come from a sudden awareness of new ways to solve issues. It's what we call "vision".
Being inspired however does not make anything real by itself—and I like to point that out to my "I have a million-worth idea" friends. It is not worth being inspired and having a great idea if you don't act on it: make it real.
Inspiration, therefore, is a kickstarter to creative problem solving. And that's all. You have to be careful, that, in order to innovate you don't consume too much of what inspires you, so that you don't become biased by what you've seen. I've heard of many Designers who use that Pinterest moodboard strategy only at the beginning of a project. The issue with coming back to whatever you use as inspiration is you may be inclined to copy details, aspects and even the feel instead of creating something more authentic and with your personal touch.
When does inspiration become a creative block instead?
As we know, inspiration is a kickstarter for creativity. It sounds odd that it could block it instead. Have you ever experienced creative block? I have, and I do often as a stupid mistake I keep repeating. I know the source of my creative blocks: over consumption of other people's works. It causes me to compare my skills with other's instead of developing my own. And then, this is when the value of becoming slightly more mindful of what and how much we are consuming comes in handy. It can be we are just consuming too much and doing too little, as well as when we have to deal with something hard or with a fault with our own skills, that cause us to compare them with someone else's. That's a huge block recipe right there. Unnecessary, self induced pressure due to lack of confidence.
Have you ever heard Gary Vee saying that you shouldn't dwell on your weaknesses? That's exactly it. We tend to be too pushy with ourselves which causes us to compare.
The threshold: consuming and creating
Another thing he says is more, more, more. But more of what? More of doing. When does inspiration become threatening to creativity?
You can have a large amount of inspiration. At some point however, you have to execute it. You consume, absorb, stop consuming and go do. If you mix that up, chances are you will get stuck with over analysis.
Try that for yourself, find what inspires you. Consume it like a delicious dish, savor each bite. When I look at type, I look at the curves, the edge, the way the line goes. I intentionally process it in a way I will remember later, so that I don't have to come back to it during the creative process of a process, no peeking allowed. Attention with intention.
The beauty in this process is that it's cyclical. Meaning, once you get onto a new stage, you can basically allow yourself to intentionally seek more inspiration for another part of a project, as long as it doesn't interfere with what you've done. It's a dangerous lane to walk on.