How to Create in the Era of Distractions (How to Become A Creator Instead of A Consumer)

Technology, with all of its blessings and benefits, is one of the most damaging things to creators.

If you haven’t read the book Deep Work by Cal Newport (which you should go do right now - after reading this article), he basically outlines the theory that we’re all losing the ability to do the deep work.

By “deep work” he means the thing that truly changes lives and careers. The big breakthroughs. The big ideas that change someone’s careers.

Most of us rarely have them any more because the second we start to deep dive into our thoughts, ding there goes your cell phone. Or your email. Or some social networking site.

Your attention goes with it and then all of a sudden there went your idea.

If you’re a creative and you haven’t had a deep, creative idea that you can stick with and flesh out entirely, then you have this problem.

The age of distraction is upon us. Never forget that these companies are designed to make a profit, and the only way they can make a profit is with your attention.

So many people I know can’t even go 10 minutes without checking some kind of tech device. This is wildly unfortunate because the deep work is where your career will be made. It’s where that screenplay is finished, that book outlined, that movie storyboard finalized.

When you’re staring at a blank page or you’re starting to think deeper, it’s DANGEROUSLY easy to pull up a screen while you “wait” for inspiration.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to relax and it’s fun to keep up with inspirational people. However, if you find yourself not following through on your creations or what you want to do with your life, it’s a problem.

If you truly want to create legendary work, you must make time for those awkward pauses and times when your brain wants to be distracted.

Do you want to be known for consuming content your whole life? Or actually creating something?

That’s the mental shift you need to fully get on board with. There’s nothing wrong with consuming content your whole life if that’s what you want to do.

If you want to be a creator, you need to read Deep Work. Outside of that, there are a few things you need to know.

Accept you’ll never catch up

There will ALWAYS be a backlog of content for you to catch up on. Accept this as a fact. You’ll never ever be “caught up” even if you spent every single day for years to catch up.

Always be auditing

Audit the content in your life. You’re probably consuming a lot of low-level content that doesn’t help your career. I do believe that consuming content can make you a better creator, but it has to be high-quality content.

It’s just like your body, if you eat crap you’re going to feel like crap. Period.

Force yourself to create

It’s easy to put off creating. “One day!” “Tomorrow!” “I’ll start Monday!” It’s all just bullshit.

Go make something RIGHT NOW. Yeah, you probably feel resistance to that idea which is even more reason why you need to do it.

Meditate and learn from digital minimalists

The subreddit NoSurf has some great tips on how to combat internet addiction. Even if you aren’t addicted, if you aren’t creating as much as you want, then technology is probably getting in the way whether you want to admit it or not.