The Writer’s Myth I Love to Ignore

Killing the Myth.png

Every writer has there own methods and ways of doing things. They have their rituals and their habits (sometimes bad ones) and strategies that work for them. Typically writers go by very broad rules of the trade that are spread across the masses and for the most part I will say there is truth to those habits and rituals and ways of doing things. However, there is this one myth, this very big no-no that writers, or any creative type really, aren’t supposed to be doing a lot of if they actually want to get any substantial and quality work done. Watch lots of TV.

For years I have been trying to find some justification and arguably some back up to my inherent belief that watching a lot of television as a creative (in particular a writer) does more good than harm and I think I have finally found it. I stumbled upon a blog post the other day (okay it wasn’t a stumble, I regularly follow her blog) in which the blogger acknowledged that while her love of binge watching Netflix has quite possibly halted work on several writing projects, it also added value and perhaps even a bit more passion into the projects that she was able to complete.

Now I do not have Netflix (Yes I know, I’m about the only person left in the world who has no desire to have a Netflix account), however, I do have an extreme love of watching television. I have my regular nightly shows, mostly police procedurals or any drama with a bit of mystery to it (like Law & Order SVU, Chicago PD, or Criminal Minds to name a few), and I also have my hospital dramas (Grey’s Anatomy and Chicago Med, and I’ll throw Chicago Fire in here too because I don’t know where else it would fit). I even like my political dramas (Scandal, Madam Secretary), and of course the all important Soap Operas (Young & the Restless and Bold & the Beautiful). Also I like my comedies (Big Bang Theory, etc) my history channel shows, and my cooking shows… Okay you get the picture, I have an interest in pretty much every aspect of television and that’s not including my love of movies. It goes without saying that I watch a large amount of TV and I have to have the TV on to go to sleep at night too (I need the noise).

To my point, I have been told countless times that people in writing, or any creative avenue really, are more productive when they watch less television. I have balked at this theory ever since I’ve heard it because it just doesn’t make sense to me, or rather for me. I mean I know that there are quite a few largely successful people who write for television and own television companies and don’t watch TV so I know that it clearly works for some people but it baffles me how you don’t watch the very medium you create for. Just as baffling to me is a writer who doesn’t read books (and believe it or not there are some) because how can you create for an audience when you don’t partake in what you are in fact producing.

Needless to say, I am the opposite and perhaps the exception because I don’t focus very well when I don’t have something on my television, and it can’t just be anything, it has to be something that inspires me when I’m writing (and yes I actually write while I watch TV—so see I’m still being productive during my TV time) or even just something that inspires a new character, or a new subject I want to write about. Television doesn’t just inspire me, it also calms me, and it is my relaxing place for when I’m stressed and worried and need to just calm down or if I’m just feeling really anxious or depressed and I need to laugh. In all actuality, sitting in silence, without the TV will probably lead to a less productive day for me because silence drives me a little crazy and I don’t concentrate very well in it, thus leading to lack of productivity.

So if you have a method that’s not supposed to work for you as a writer but somehow it works, just go with it. I know it may seem to not make sense to anyone else doing what you do, and it may just go against all of the rules of the trade but aren’t rules sometimes meant to be bent a little. At least bent to work just the right way, and in your favor. The wonderful thing about being a writer or any creative is that your out of the box thinking can lead you down a path you never saw coming, and in the best most possible ways! So go forth and buck the trends and laugh in the face of the myths!

Jimmetta Carpenter

Writer/Editor

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NaNoWriMo Day # 13: Is the Excitement of NaNoWriMo Starting to Taper Off?

Hopefully you haven’t gotten to that point in your NaNoWriMo experience where the excitement of doing a first draft in 30 days has weaned and the everyday responsibilities of life have once again consumed you.  But if you have reached that point (although that doesn’t usually happen until after you’ve passed the middle of the month) and you are starting to get blocked or starting to procrastinate, perhaps you just need a little motivation to get you going again.

If you’re a music lover (and you can actually write to music—I usually would just end up singing instead of writing) then maybe you could start thinking of music to inspire you to write.  Perhaps you should give your book a soundtrack as if it were going to become a movie (who knows, maybe it will be) and think of the songs that would fit your book and its characters.  The music that might be playing in the background of a dramatic scene could push your story forward even further.

If you are more of a television person maybe watching a little T.V. can get those creative juices flowing again.  If you are writing a drama, perhaps watch a drama show, or if you’re writing something a little more comedic, then watch comedy.  Perhaps watching the style that you are currently writing in can give you ideas for scenes, or dialogue, or an interesting plot twist you can throw into your book.

You might even think about watching an inspiring movie that could give you more ideas for your book.  Perhaps watching a movie that resembles what you want your book to look like on film (not a carbon copy of course but a generalized idea) can give you more of an inspiration to finish what you started this month.  Movies are usually what gets my creative juices going again and gives me an overwhelming amount of new ideas (too many new ideas—usually before I’ve finished working on the old ones) and has me rushing back to my computer (or to my notebook).

If none of those things inspires you to keep writing then do something that does inspire you or do something that can help take the pressure off of you to finish the novel.  There’s nothing wrong with going out for a couple of hours, having some fun with friends or family, and releasing that tension or anxiety you are feeling about getting your novel done.  That may be just what you need to get back into the swing of things.  No matter what you find to inspire you to keep writing, just keep writing!

 

Jimmetta Carpenter

Writer/Editor

The Diary: Succession of Lies (Now Available)

Writing as “Jaycee Durant”

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Knowing is Half the Battle

One of the things I struggle most with when it comes to writing is my consistence in the art of procrastination.  As much as I want other writers out there to buckle down and plant their butts in a chair and as much as I tell myself the same thing, lately it seems like any minor distraction can deter me from writing, mostly the TV.  

I think I might be addicted to television.  I mean even if I turn the sound down on the TV it doesn’t help but if I turn the TV off then it’s too quiet and I can’t focus when it is too quiet, I need some modicum of sound.  And it’s not as if I watch TV for the sheer enjoyment of watching it (at least not most of the shows I watch) but rather I watch it from the standpoint of a writer.  I watch the storylines and pay close attention to the dialogue and analyze it in my head as to what I, as a writer, could bring to that TV show or movie.  

I am going into detail about the distraction of TV because although I have many other distractions that just come with everyday life and being a mom, the TV is basically my kryptonite and sometimes (not all the time) it weakens my desire to write.  Well now that I’ve been honest with myself and you, hopefully I can take the proper steps to resolve the issue of that distraction.  

I think when I used to go to Borders to do my writing it got me away from the TV and I felt inspired sitting in the bookstore surrounded by all of these great writers (I mean of the books on the shelves) and it just made me want to work harder.  Ever since they closed down Borders I haven’t had anywhere to retreat to get away from the distractions of being home with the TV.  I guess I have to find another place now where I can get away and still feel inspired.  

I suppose this means I’m not one of those writers who can do my work 100% from the comfort of my home.  I guess getting out of my home office will also help me to network with other writers as well.  Now that I figured out why I haven’t been writing much lately I know exactly what I need to do to fix it.  Well knowing is half of the battle isn’t it?  Until tomorrow…It’s good to know your flaws and your weaknesses, because if you don’t know what they are you can’t fix them.  

Jimmetta Carpenter

Writer/Editor

The Diary: Succession of Lies (Now Available)

Writing as “Jaycee Durant”

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The Writer and Their Distractions

“Work is hard. Distractions are plentiful. And time is short.”
~ Adam Hochschild
 

I have come to realize and accept the fact that writing completely without distractions is essentially impossible.  From the television, to social media, and just life in general, distractions are just a part of anyone’s career path.  I’ve also discovered that there are in fact some distractions that are not really a distraction, simply background material for you next story, or inspiration for your next article.  When writers go to coffee shops to get some work done, most people would wonder how that is conducive to one’s writing because there is so much noise and so many different conversations going on at the same time around you.  What non-writers fail to realize is that those multiple conversations can work their way in to so much of your stories or inspire new one’s.  

Those aren’t the distractions that hinder me when it comes to my productivity.  One of the biggest distractions that can be my downfall, yet can also be my inspiration, is the television.  I try to escape it but there’s always something on it that intrigues me and gets the wheels in my mind turning and thinking of other ideas.  Now this would be good if I was struggling with coming up with ideas but the problem is I have way too many ideas.  But if I turn the television off then the complete silence becomes an even bigger distraction than the TV itself.  

I guess a writer can never really get away from their distractions completely.  There are many ways that they could probably limit or eliminate them in an effort to become more productive but maybe the key is in figuring out how to make the distractions work for you.  I haven’t quite mastered that part yet but I am working on it everyday.  I did manage to come up with a small list of a few things that hopefully will enable those writers who are having the same struggles with distractions that I’m having: 

  1. Write By Hand- This enables you to get away from the computer completely, and all of the distractions that the computer holds.  Also having to actually write out your words allows you to examine them as you go along and sometimes the words flow easier. 
  1. Turn off the Phone- No one can help but to look at their phone when it rings or when you get a text message and of course if you look at the phone when it rings then you are most likely going to answer it.  To avoid this timely distraction turn the cell phone off for the amount of your time that you decide to write. 
  1. Close out the window with the Internet- If you absolutely can not see yourself writing long-hand and must use the computer then be sure to close all other windows besides the one with your project.  While you are typing out your story, or whatever project you are working on, have no other screen up or minimized waiting on you to click on.  If you can see the other window (even minimized) you will want to click on it.  It almost sounds too simple but it really works! 
  1. Write every Morning- Getting up an hour earlier in the morning allows you time when the rest of the world, and your household, is still sleep and you can have complete concentration on your work before your day even really gets started.  Now this one is hard for me to do but I think I am even going to put more effort into making this one work for me. 
  1. Find your Place- Now some writers have certain places where they have to write.  They literally can not write anything if they are not in their special writing place.  So if there is a place that the words just flow easier and naturally then that’s where you should probably try to write all of the time.  I believe I am one of those writers but economically it just isn’t possible for me to go where I need to go everyday to write.  

If any of you writer’s out there has any tips and ideas on how I, or any other writer with this same problem, can minimize their distractions, or make them work for them, please feel free to share.  Until next time…I will be busy fighting off my current distraction, the TV!  

Jimmetta Carpenter

Writer/Editor

The Diary: Succession of Lies (Now Available)

Writing as “Jaycee Durant”

http://www.passionatewriterpublishing.com/thediary.htm

https://writetobe.wordpress.com/

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