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Create Before You Consume

From time to time, I thought I’d tackle here some of my most oft-asked questions about blogging, writing, running a blog network, earning an income online, and managing that part of my life with all those other things. You know—raising kids, getting dinner on the table, exercising, having soul-filling alone time, dating my husband, and being a good neighbor and friend.

It’s not easy.

There are many, many little, ten-peso things I’ve learned in the four-plus years I’ve blogged for income, and I’d love to share as many as I can. I’m daily grateful for the many blessings in my life due to this crazy job I accidentally created for myself, and I stand on the shoulders of many who’ve graciously shared their tips and encouragement. How could I not do the same?

Today’s tip might seem small and impractical, but I’d argue it’s one of my top three necessities for writing well, not going crazy, and sticking with it when I want to throw in the towel.

Several years ago, I read a punch-you-in-the-gut post from Seth Godin. In a nutshell, he said there’s a difference between producers and consumers, and that to be a producer, you need to first set aside your consumer self. If you want to produce something original and quality, you need to not consume any other original ideas until you’ve first created your own.

In other words, you need to pour yourself out before you fill up with other people’s ideas.

What does this look like, practically-speaking?

For me, it means not checking my email, Facebook, Twitter stream, Pinterest, feed reader, or any other medium until I pour out my own words first. As a writer, I wait until I’ve written my first daily words before opening Gmail and everything else.

It was hard at first, but it’s much easier now. I think of this first-morning writing as a little treat to myself. I can intentionally close myself off for a few minutes to those many voices screaming for my attention, and just write.

I also sit and rest among beauty before taking on the rest of the world. It doesn’t always happen, but I try my best to wake before my kids and husband in order to pray, meditate, and soak up beauty. This might mean reading truth in Scripture, or it might mean pulling out my camera and photographing the morning dew on the garden flower.

And I dump my brain as soon as I’ve got some coffee running through my brain. It’s as sexy as it sounds — I grab my legal pad and a pen, and I just jot down all my thoughts as they come my way. I scribble everything from the grocery list to the blog post idea to the soul-stirring C.S. Lewis quote I don’t want to forget. Everything goes on that yellow striped paper and out of my head. It’s miraculous what this simple act does for my sanity.

In short, I give of myself before I receive from others. I take care of myself, and I calm my soul before entering the potential madness of the Internet. Those email requests and reader comments can wait just a little bit. And those minuscule, unfathomable beauties surrounding me might go unnoticed if I don’t first take a few minutes to acknowledge their exquisiteness and say thanks in gratitude to their creator.

When I take the time to first produce, before consuming, I’m infinitely more centered and able to face the rest of my work. It’s one of the most important steps I take in my work-life balance.

What’s one way in your life that you produce before you consume? How do you take care of yourself first thing in the morning?

Read more from Tsh at Simple Mom, or follow her on Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest.

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