Indianapolis, IN

Indianapolis Professor On Why What You Consume Matters

Jim Woods

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Let's talk about what we consume, especially online. Why does it matter?

I recently learned something interesting from Dr. Ian Zimmerman Ph.D., a professor at Butler University in Indianapolis. He said that consumption exerts enough of an influence on our lives that it becomes part of our identities.  We not only use consumption to construct our own identities, but we use it to infer the identities of others. Products represent our identities by the meaning attached to them.

So on that note, what you're consuming does greatly affect what ever it is that you are creating. Let's say that maybe you are consuming a lot of thrillers, a lot of mysteries. That's going to show up in how you talk and what you write, if you're a writer. Even if you're a podcaster, suddenly you're going to have more references to stories in those genres. Maybe you're consuming a lot of romantic comedies. Don't be surprised if you start referencing those. You might even start listening to the soundtracks to your favorite romantic comedies. (Personally, I have to admit You've Got Mail is the best.) Whatever it is, that's going to come out in what you create.

I have also heard it said that whatever the last five books you've read, those books will come out and in the book that you're writing. There's something to that. I've been going through a lot of my favorites, books that I have like multiple copies of really just exploring those. Why do I love those books? Why are those so important to me? And I have about five books that I just have like 20 copies of these five books. And what you're consuming? Absolutely, you can see it in the voice and the tone and the ideas of what you're creating. And you I'm sure you know that expression garbage in equals garbage out. What are you consuming? What are you reading? What are you learning? All of these things affect your book. And I do think as you're writing your book as you're finishing your book, if you're continually reading a lot of different things, you might start wanting to change your book.

You might want to have those new ideas and you know, they're going to when you dream and when you sleep, it's it's going to affect your subconscious, you're going to come up with more and more ideas. That's why it's really helpful to you know, get out that first rough draft as soon as possible. Keep those influences in mind. As you're writing your book, you want it to remain pretty consistent. That will also help the overall tone of your book. If you keep adding to it. You could have what I would call kitchen sink-itis. What is kitchen sinkitis? Well, it is when you have everything and the kitchen sink in your book or whatever story it is you're telling. And I have to be totally honest with you: a lot of authors have this problem. It's really common. Even movie directors do this as well. Don't make this mistake because it will make your story lag.

The Takeaway

I want to challenge you to be very intentional about your influences. Be very intentional about whatever forms of content you are consuming. And it is also wise to look for how these show up in your own work when you're creating. Being intentional really makes a big difference. Don't settle. Look for those plot devices. Look for those topics. Look at the tone too. Be as aware as possible. And that will also help you as you're creating.

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