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!