Be A Creator, Not a Consumer

Things you’re not allowed to think as you read this article:

  1. I don’t have enough time.
  2. I’m not smart enough.
  3. I don’t solve problems every day.

Many years ago, I created a talk called “7 Steps to Shameless Self-Promotion.”  The idea was to explain how to get famous (or at least well-known) in your career field.  As I’ve grown, both personally and professionally, I’ve realized that it really comes down to one simple idea:

Be A Creator.

Write a book.  Start a blog.  Build a website.  Publish some software. Contribute to an open-source project. Participate in forums.  Leave an indelible mark on your community.  These are creation.

As I look around our societal landscape, I’m noticing a trend where more and more people are specifically focused on consuming content.  Mobile phones, tablets, laptops, television, books, and magazines are all great things, and I even contend that without some consumption, creation would be incredibly difficult.  Everything you consume, whether it’s an interesting blog article or even an episode of Jersey Shore (please don’t), it shapes you as a person.

That being said, you’re currently looking for some ways to change or improve your life.  It’s the New Year, after all…why not make some impactful changes in what and how you live it?

I have spoken with thousands of developers, and I pose the same question to each of them:

When you solve a coding problem, where do you publicly share that information with others?  A blog?  A wiki?  StackOverflow?

The answer, almost always, is this:  Why would anyone read what I write?  I pose a similar question to you, my dear defeatist: Why do you read anyone else’s blog?  Is it their incredible use of iambic pentameter?  Maybe they rhyme the last word of every line.  Or maybe, it’s because you find solutions to your problems in their ramblings.

So in this year 2012, I want all of you to create something.  Maybe it’s a piece of art.  Maybe it’s a new presentation. Maybe it’s a Windows Phone application. Perhaps you’ve found the motivation to write a short story.  Whatever it is, DO IT.  The easiest way to get started?  Start a blog and write about your hobbies.  Go to WordPress and set it up.  Once a week, write down the new thing that you learned.  Maybe it’s that you finally solved a cool coding problem, or realized that bacon really makes your Cinnamon Toast Crunch taste better.  Write it down!  Someone will enjoy what you have to say, and at a bare minimum, you’ve now documented your solution, so you’ll remember how you did it the next time.

Let me know when you’ve done it.  I need some stuff to consume. Smile

34 thoughts on “Be A Creator, Not a Consumer

  1. Jeff,

    Great job! Stan forwarded this to me…Nice summation of subject a lot of people just don’t seem to get. Hope to chat in person some time at an after event: BarCamp Sarasota, Sarasota Dev, code camp….

  2. Does commenting on a blog also counts as creation? 🙂 I consumed your blog created a comment. Thanks. I m inspired.

  3. Funny how I just started a new iOS project a while ago. :o)

    I currently don’t have a blog though. Definitely starting one!

  4. Thank you. You have no idea how inspirational your post has been. It’s something I’ve been tossing around in my head. You’ve just given me the push I needed. I’ll let you know as soon as it’s up and running!

  5. Nice article.. really true. Even I have noticed that we (including me) become more consume oriented attitude rather than create or ‘Just Do it ‘ attitude. We need to change this.. Have to take some time out & pen down few stuff you feel should be share with others…!!

  6. I love the article and your right, I should contribute more. This year i have started my blog and already have two posts up. Check them out if you get a chance everyone and let me know what you think. Be honest….really, you won’t hurt my feelings. Let me know if there are any other subjects you would like to hear about.

  7. Thanks. Good and incentive article (I used Google Translate to find -incentive-, I hope I didnt use it with incorrect meaning.)

    Good days and works.

  8. I’m reading your article while sipping my morning coffee…at work….and I noticed something quite interesting on the right hand side….advertising. Ok that’s fine, but what I don’t like is the ad is for dating Asian girls! You might want to look into blocking THAT type of ad IMHO.

  9. Hello! I think that was quite inspiring. I am soo very aspiring to do so.

    Please, allow me to say that I am very impressed with your thoughts and motivational speech.

    – M

  10. I am reading your article while I am sitting in my room and thinking for writing and presentaing my report on face recognition system given me as assignment in my MS studies indeed this article inspired me.

  11. Nice post, thank you very much!
    I agree that being sometimes a creator rather than always just a consumer makes the whole difference. I also think that being able one time or another to create something you really WANT to create (intending to satisfy your own deep needs, not other’s) is of utmost importance. Certainly not easy, however.
    Have an awesome creative year!

  12. Great article. I did just that last year since i had some time on my hands after getting laid off. Through the tool i developed, i made some new contacts and learned a great deal about programming and web hosting. Just do it!

  13. Absolutely right! Another consideration is that the only people who can “fix” things are the creators. Warning, philosophical comment: Without creative people, at whatever level, the culture sinks.

  14. I have been a taker for many years. Hopefully I can pay a small part of that forward.
    Thanks for the nudge.

  15. I really appreciate your thinking. If every one there start to share their experiences like this, it will solve a great problem.

  16. Thank you very much!!
    I’ve created a blog, but, unfortunately I abandoned it. Now I’ve got inspired to start writing some stuff again 🙂

  17. That is exactly how I use my various blogs but recently I have kind of lost my blogging among twitter and google plus. You have inspired me to create more. Thanks

  18. I write on blog if i got solution or known as my achievement. Do we got developer blogspot or developer social network??

  19. I finished school last year and just started my active life, and a few months ago I’ve been asked by one of my professors to make a short presentation about my job in front of his young students. I told them exactly what you’vre written in this blogpost. Developer’s life is incredible because I can be an expert at my own level. Everybody can do the same. And of course any experience is susceptible to intereset someone else… that’s why we have to talk about it.

  20. Here I go. Became a creator by posting this comment..
    Normally I donot post comments or even tech solutions I solve in forums or blogs. Sometimes it takes little effort but the system and environment is not in place to do that. I mean we have to register or subscribe and only then we can share. Too much effort. I am trying to change that to be a micro level contributor. Need to start somewhere.
    Thanks Jeff.

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