Television, Distraction or Inspiration?

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As a writer there’s a lot I can justify in the name of writing. Almost any experience or activity can be seen as a necessary part of the writing process. For years it fueled my already voracious reading habits. I’ve always believe the advice to become a better writer you have to read, and read widely. As if I needed a excuse to excessively shop for books. Even with my often visits to the library, my book collection has grown considerably the past couple of years.

But thanks to a good friend and her Netflix account, my new favorite medium is television shows. In the past I’ve been critical of myself watching too much TV, it felt too much like a waste of time. It’s likely because of the lack of choices, hundreds of channels and still nothing good is ever on. But after thoroughly browsing the horror and sci-fi/fantasy categories I realized the potential for inspiration it provided. So I’ve been pretty much binging on all shows having to do with witches, monsters, space travel, fae, etc.

I have to admit if it wasn’t for the content I’d probably be saying this was a real problem. At my worst I’ve spent almost entire days watching at least half a season. And more than a few times I was up until at least 4am because I just couldn’t walk away. So I’m starting to wonder if I really am lying to myself. Is this binging really just a distraction from the things I should be doing, or is it a part of the process? Some days I feel like I’m really benefiting, inspiring new creative work. Other’s I feel like I’m wasting too much time. I do have a bad habit of become a little obsessive.

I’m sure plenty of other people have lost time getting sucked into a TV watching binge. How do you know when it’s really a problem? I’d love to hear from my readers, especially other writers. Do you think TV can really be a productive use of time in terms of finding inspiration, or is it a big time suck?

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Just Another Thing I Don’t Get

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Lately I’ve been attending writing workshops. Luckily there are some that meet regularly and are free. The workshop leaders give us a prompt and a set time to write. At the end of the time we share what we wrote and comment on what we liked, what was memorable or anything else that might be helpful. You always have the option not to read or give any feedback, and there’s really no pressure. The best thing is they are very noncommittal, there is usually no sign up before hand and you can show up whenever you feel like it. Which is why I find it odd when people don’t seem to really want to be there.

Well, maybe it’s not that they don’t want to be there but technically they really are not mentally there. I’ve seen people that instead of writing they are on their computer checking email, Facebook, or whatever else. Now on occasion I can see having the computer there distract you, and on occasion I’ll pull out my phone for a quick check. But I swear at least once I saw somebody spend the entire two hours surfing the web. Now I wonder why they bother to show up then. Not only does it seem like a waste of their time, but it’s pretty rude to the other participants. Instead of listening and participating in the discussion about the writing being done, they are basically just taking up space.

I just have to wonder what goes through people’s minds when they do things like this. Is it that they just don’t care, don’t think others care, or that they just don’t realize what they are doing. I get it’s free, it’s not the most professional groups of people, and it’s not that serious. But it just seems, I don’t know, kind of wrong. Well maybe not wrong but it sure is pretty damn pointless to attend a writing group to do everything else except what you’re there for.