Output Before Input

Output Before Input >> Life In Limbo

As you probably know, this new “daily observation blog post” thing is still pretty new. About two days old, to be precise. And while I’ve gotten a bit clearer on what the parameters will be (a short post from Monday to Thursday), I’m still figuring out how to integrate this habit into my routine and make it stick.

This morning I accidentally came up with an idea that I think is going to help: output before input. In this case, I’m defining output as the blog post I’m going to write, meeting my goal of creative expression & paying attention. Input is literally everything else: music, podcasts, conversations, texts, movies, reading a book. And as much as I adore input (seriously, it’s my top strength on the Strengthfinder quiz), I recognize that it interferes with my output in a lot of ways.

This morning, for example, I started my day with my phone on Airplane mode, which I always do in an attempt to greet the world each morning feeling more peaceful and relaxed. So far, so good! But then I started reading the last few pages of a book, and suddenly I felt like I was inside that author’s brain and worldview instead of my own. Suddenly, it was a lot harder to hear my own thoughts, which had been swirling around only moments ago. And it also made me doubtful! It’s pretty hard to value your own ideas when you’re encountering succinct, edited, published versions of someone else’s.

When I interviewed her for the podcast, Sarah Von Bargen told me that one of the ways she gets her best ideas is by carving out space in her day without any input, whether it’s on a dog walk, driving in her car or staring out a window. I recognized the truth in what she said, and yet apart from my short Airplane-mode morning routine, I have very little of this time built into my day.

Thus, my new saying, more of a guideline than a hard and fast rule: output before input. Put differently, prose before bros (a saying I just learned!) – with bros here representing everything that is not my own creative process. Make some space, listen to yourself first, write it down, rinse & repeat.

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