Consume, create, collaborate, repeat

On the brink of 2011 when all of NYC was about to come alive, I rushed to meet my friends in a low-clearance basement about a mile from home. One by one, we went round robbin as we spoke our resolutions for the new year. Time wasn’t friendly to us since we wanted to all speak and we were minutes away from the ball drop. 

“I want to write one long-form piece per week.” Quickly we changed our direction towards the ball drop on television. 3…2…1…Happy New Year! Group Hug! Love you all. And the resolutions we shared faded in the deep. Reading on my Kindle the next morning, I reflected on my musings that previous night and thought to myself, “I really want to create something new per week, not just write.”

If you look at my old posts on this blog, you’ll note how I write about writing more than actually writing about something. Turns out that every time I write, I keep striving towards writing that magnum opus that will define me in the coming years. But it’s silly. The notion is silly. Writing was never about knocking the socks off of everyone’s feet. Creating something is about brewing new thoughts.

I am not here to maximize viewership’s value simply because they have an expectation of me. I write to improve and curate myself. Creativity should bubble and boil over a cauldron of sentences and paint brushes in order to feed a wonderful thought stew. And to never be afraid of the delete key, never be afraid to talk about the right and the wrong things, never be afraid of yes and no and sticking to it. 

Jeffery Zeldman, a connoisseur of the web since ‘95 (!), offers valuable insight about the web and empowering the maker. He puts it so neatly and nicely in this sentence:

The corollary to all this empowerment is that it’s up to each of us to do something positive with it.

Something positive. Something positive. Something positive. I need to create something positive. I would say that in 2011, the best thing I did was consume. I read dangerously nearly 200+ feeds. I read my Instapaper digests continuously on my Kindle. But where was the creating? I didn’t contribute to the community my intellectual discourses, findings, and cutesy sketches. I didn’t provide a call and response let alone answer the call. But it’s time to stir the pot and make something fragrant.

I am taking out all the guns this year and really honing in my creativity. That means finally taking advantage of Twitter the way it was intended. Writing short bursts of thought on my Tumblr. Taking tons of creative photos on Instagram. Contribute to unique, long-form writing on my website. And playing my role in these communities.

For me, 2012 isn’t about just forming a resolution to pass but enabling a ticket for creating something new. Inshallah, I got this. And I’ve gotta tell you: it feels good to create. 

Ashraf Ali