Learning to process your rocks

It’s not good to consume too much information, to be bombarded by articles after articles, podcasts after podcasts, or videos after videos. By consuming so much, you can actually lose your ability to think and create, and that’s what happened to me a while back.

Sure, you need input in order to make output, and these inputs generally come from the ideas we’re exposed to and the information we consume. But they don’t come directly, do they? There’s no way you can write a good blog post by copying, almost word for word, the content of another blog post.

The thing that will make your work interesting is your own spin, the way you synthesis the different ideas you’re exposed to into something seemingly original. The way you build upon existing ideas, or the way you provide an alternative interpretation or viewpoint for something seemingly conventional.

Most people forget that between input and output, there is another critical process that needs to happen, and it’s called processing. Remember the age-old input, processing, output model?

Most people spend far too much time on the input spectrum. Some people, like myself, try to spend more time on the output spectrum, exploring the world of daily blogs or recordings, trying to regularly create something out of nothing. But that never works, you can’t create something out of nothing, you just can’t. You can only create something out of something else.

Everything starts with something, and in the world of content creation, that something is usually an idea. And ideas are like rocks, each might be a different color and you can’t make much just by collecting them. People like me fall into the trap of collecting too many rocks and trying too hard to make something out of them. What we all too often forget is the critical step in the middle, the processing part.

Rocks need to be melted so you can extract those little colored particles trapped inside them. It’s called processing, and there’s no way you can process your rocks if you keep looking for new rocks to collect. It’s also called thinking, you know, the thing you do when you’re all alone and bored to tears. You can’t think when you’re consuming new information, you’d just be busy looking at colorful rocks to do any processing.

And once you have enough rocks processed, you might end up with things like “iron” or “aluminum” to work with, and with enough luck, you might end up creating something better than that “titanium” thing someone else made.

The bottom line is this, stop collecting rocks and start spending more time with them. Spend some time alone with the rocks you already have and just stare at them. Get bored and enjoy your rocky companions, your mind will start processing them into something else to try and escape the boredom, and before you know it, you’ve invented a new iron-aluminum alloy that’s as strong and light as titanium but at 10% the production cost.

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