The struggle is real. We want to create more. Shipping feels amazing. There’s nothing quite like hitting that ‘Publish’ button.
But we find it difficult to write even one blog post. Even one more line of code sounds … daunting. We gawk in awe at people who are so prolific.
There’s just not. Enough. Time. Besides, creativity is hard. It hurts the brain and requires stamina.
As real as these excuses sound in the moment, we’re faced with the harsh reality that we all have the same exact amount of time in a day. The playing field is level. 24 hours, baby. Plus, that blank page/screen/canvas/schedule doesn’t play favorites. We’re all faced with the same challenge of filling it.
I’ve been wanting to write a book for the last five years. Since then, Seth Godin has written seven books. And he blogs daily, tackles projects, facilitates workshops, gives speeches, and even finds time to canoe and hang out with family.
I realize I’m comparing myself to the Michael Jordan of content (what can I say – I’m a Seth Godin fanboy). But I know I can do better. And I know you can too.
The Devil is in the Distractions
The first distraction I need to bring up is obvious. It’s far too easy for us to consume content today. It’s everywhere. Notifications constantly bombard us. It’s only one-click to read, send, share, and order.
Taking into account those 24 hours we talked about earlier, it’s easier than ever to fill them by falling prey to these interruptions.
The second distraction we’re faced with is a more subtle one. I’m talking about the idea of perfection. As soon as we start something, we realize it doesn’t come out perfect the first time. Maybe not even the second time. Or the time after that.
Good work requires mental and emotional labor.
As soon as we start to feel the burn in what we’re doing, we pull ourselves away from the work to, again, consume more content.
We tell ourselves the story that, if we just consume more content, we can create perfect work through osmosis.
Next thing we know, it’s been two hours, and we’ve accomplished nothing.
Do these types of distractions sound familiar? If so, I want to let you in on a simple, but powerful minimalistic tool. This tool helped me kick my distractions to the curb and up-level my creativity by leaps and bounds.
Buckle up, young minimalist warrior. You’re about to leave those distractions long in the rear view mirror and become a creative productivity machine.
Enter: Media Deprivation
If you haven’t read Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, I highly recommend you do, especially if you’re facing a creative block like I was.
She first coined the term ‘Reading Deprivation’ in 1992 when The Artist’s Way was first published. Since then, she has updated it to ‘Media Deprivation’ to include all the various ways content bombards us today.
The concept is simple. No reading or consuming any content for one week.
I know what you’re thinking … But I have to read emails at work, answer emergency phone calls from loved ones, and watch the next episode of Sense8.
I get it. We’re both adults. If you must consume content in order to keep your job or to save a life, by all means, do what’s right for you.
But when you can, stick with only creating. If you’re a writer, just write. If you’re a developer, just develop. If you’re an illustrator, make beautiful work. For one week.
Now, just a fair warning. Days one and two will be miserable. You may even catch yourself consuming content. That’s ok. Just stop. And put. The content. Down. Then, get back to work.
However, on about day three, you’ll notice something. You’ll get right to it. It’ll be kind of strange how comfortable it feels. Go with it. By the time the week comes to a close, it’ll likely be enjoyable. Before you know it, the week will be over.
What Media Deprivation Did for Me
The thing is, I didn’t start out with the intent of creating a new Medium publication. My initial goal was to get out of my gigantic creative slump by employing this tool of Media Deprivation.
So, every day, I posted on Medium. Anything. Everything. My Seth Godin emails piled up and my bathroom reading came to a halt — it’s so boring just … sitting there.
It was tough at first. I stressed that I’d run out of ideas. Nope. Didn’t happen. Matter of fact, the more I went along, the more ideas flowed to me.
My first several posts were bad. Really bad. But after a few days of constant creation, something happened. Eliminating incoming media made room for my creative superpowers to emerge.
Now, I have a powerful little publication of almost 6,000 followers that’s growing every day. I feel creatively inspired again and I know those books are next.
Media Deprivation gave me the creative fuel to power through the interruptions and get me in the habit of creating.
Now, you go.
Like I said, this concept is simple, but as you know, it’s often the simplest things are the most difficult.
That’s ok. Stick with it. Create, create, create. Spend every minute of your available time making things until it becomes a habit. Care not that you’ll create bad stuff. Get it out of your system so the good stuff can start showing up.
Soon enough, you’ll have made the leap from interrupted consumer to steel-hardened, focused creator.