When I first moved to North Carolina, there were a few days when I could not get out of bed. I went from running several miles every day, doing yoga, and mostly feeling at home in my skin to being unable to move. Not physically, obviously, but I could not make myself care enough to get out bed. I wasn't exactly sad. Sadness would have been welcome actually; maybe I would have spent the time crying. Instead, I just felt overwhelming apathy. Everything I might have filled my time with in the past failed to interest me anymore. I was so deeply bored, and I wished to live anywhere other than in my brain.
The problem with over-consuming the work of other people (or even the lives of other people) is that it robs me of the energy and motivation to create. And when I'm not actively creating something -- no matter what that something is -- I feel less like me. Elizabeth Gilbert once said, "If I'm not actively creating something, chances are I'm about to start actively destroying something." That's me, too. I think that's a lot of people.
Something magic happens to me when I write a lot. It doesn't matter what I write about or if it's any good; I'm just happy. I'm happy when I can tie together a lot of unrelated thoughts and make them form a coherent idea. I'm happy when I'm making something. There are these few precious moments (which actually turn out to be hours) where I am completely unaware of time and the outside world and anything but the thoughts in my brain and my fingertips flying across the keyboard. It energizes me to create; it gives me purpose.
Consuming isn't all bad though. Sometimes it inspires me. I have two rules for consuming that I'm trying to follow so I don't get sucked into apathy again.
1) Consume Intentionally
I'll let you know if I ever learn to do this, but what this basically means is not constantly seeking distraction through the work of others. I've found that reading blogs doesn't inspire me as much as reading books does. I think it's because I don't write books, so I don't compare myself to the author. That sometimes happens to me with blogs, and it's not pretty. The same with Instagrams and Facebook updates. It's not that I ever want the life of the sharer; I just get so sick of all the noise that I don't want to add to it anymore. Books always inspire me because they take me to another world. I get outside of myself, and all of a sudden I have brand new ideas. So, the trick is to read/watch work that inspires you to create your own work and not the kind that makes you want to crawl into bed and never leave.
2) Create All of The Time
I know that we're supposed to emphasis quality over quantity, but from experience, if I try to write one essay per week and I really slave over that essay and then no one cares about it at all, it demoralizes me. When I'm putting my stuff out there every few days or even just writing stuff I never publish, I don't get to linger too long on the response to it nor do I obsess over every sentence. I'm not creating anything that's establishing me as the voice of my generation, but I am getting out of bed. Small victories.