MARCH 28, 2020
CODEC: k-Oveq6mwiA


I have been thinking about the two types of exhaustion that Craig Mod speaks about in his talk Two Books and a Long Walk:

The exhaustion of output and the exhaustion of input.

These exhaustions live in harmony with one another, each making the respective exhaustion worse — and if we want to be people who exist to create instead of people who solely exist to consume, we have to do battle with them both.

I'll break down each type of exhaustion a bit based on what they mean to me.

To become exhausted by output means to be so caught up in your own creative process that you never stop to appreciate what you're doing. This does not mean that you should actually stop creating (as Stephen Pressfield says, don't blow your momentum), but you should find a different method of creating that actually serves to show you just how much you've done so that you're driven to go even further.

To become exhausted by input means that you get stuck in the feedback loops of social media (or whatever your vice may be) and never find time to actually make output — or, when you do have output, you get stuck in the process of the feedback loop instead of the actual act of creating.

For a long time I have tried to wage a war with the exhaustion of input by simply removing their sources from my life — but as an input-oriented person, I find that I can never stay away from the streams for too long. They're too valuable! Too enticing!

Instead what I am now recognizing is that when I am in a creative mode, I must go inward instead of impulsively wandering outward. When I find myself momentarily without something to do, my fingers on the keys with no words to type, my impulse is to click on Twitter. It is right there! Something new has definitely popped up! Let's just check it for a minute!

That is, of course, insane. It's not going to get me any closer to finishing my own thoughts or affirming what I want to create. So I have to discipline myself in this way: If I can teach my brain that retreating inward is more satisfying than going outward, I win.

I have been thinking a lot lately about the habits of writers. It seems that every photograph of a famous writer shows them with a cigarette in their hand, and I have begun thinking that smoking has played a key role in giving the writer something to do while their brain moves forward but their fingers cannot. I think that the impulse to check a social media account or tap on my phone is a similar antsy act of the subconscious, but while smoking does nothing but allow the mind to think, internet input forces the mind to change gears completely.

I have been looking for ways to modify that outward behavior, but I am now realizing that it's actually the inward which should be focused on. 

Hone in on the quiet, not the noise.