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Television and Writing

file00079142636I left the hotel an hour ago to take a walk (we don’t get much snow in Dallas, but I was raised in the northern Rockies so I enjoyed walking in it). My purpose, besides snowfall, was to think about the post I had drafted for today.

On my way through the lobby, I caught a glimpse of the television and an episode of Big Bang Theory.

So there I was, snow falling and melting on my sleeves, ready to contemplate the draft…and all my brain could focus on was the theme song for BBT. Huh.

It happens more than I’d like to admit since cable re-entered our household in 2011. Though I enjoy the few shows I record and the good stuff on the History Channel, I resent it, too.

I want to go back to my “no TV” existence.  I think I need to.  That’s not likely to happen since I remarried and my son lives with us, but still.

From 1992-2000 , television was a minor player in my household. The kids had the VCR and I had more time for the duties of a single parent. After an interstate move, TV disappeared almost entirely from 2004-2011. No cable, spotty reception…I didn’t miss the tube.  (Incidentally, both kids grew up to be readers…whether from lack of TV or from seeing mom with her nose perpetually in a book, I cannot say).

These days, I can catch my only “must,” Doctor Who, on Netflix. My brain would eventually clear itself of theme songs and laugh tracks and the grandson’s Baby TV.   It’s mental clutter.

It’s clutter I don’t need. Now, I don’t presume to tell anyone else they should give up television…unless they tell me they have no time to write…but I am increasingly convinced it is the right choice for me and for my writing. One of the things that makes me a writer is my brain’s ability to absorb from my surroundings. That includes sight and sound, so music and television are strong influences on my inner musings and concentration.  The more clutter in that regard, the longer it takes those inner thoughts to surface.  You know, the ones that put you into flow as words pour out?

The urge to unplug the tube is strong, and though my kid spent a good portion of his childhood without more than the VCR, I no longer have the right to choose on his behalf. He’s the only extrovert in a house full of introverts. I get it. My husband won’t give up TV, and the cable will stay on.

That’s okay. I’m clear on what I need.

What I’d really like to know is if I’m weird or really “out there.” What do you think about television and your writing practice? Are they at odds or cooperative? Have you ever given up television? Did you welcome it back? What do you think about all of this in general? Please comment if you can. If I’m weird, I’ll live. If I’m not alone, I’d really love to know. 🙂

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6 thoughts on “Television and Writing

  1. I’ll chime in. I never owned a television through much of the 90s. I never missed it. My parents bought me one for Christmas one year. I only allowed rabbit ears and refused to get any kind of cable.

    I never missed it at all. I always found something to do. When I got married, that all changed, but we still turn it off most nights. (Dr. Who is a must.)

  2. I’m an avid non-watcher of TV. It doesn’t keep me engaged and just fills space, so I instead do more worthwhile uses of my time like reading, writing (woot!), and gaming, which requires a LOT more brainpower than even the most technical show on TV. I have a good laugh about the fact that I bought a 60″ 3D TV for my new house, and it’s almost never on. It’s there for company, not for me.

    • Gaming most definitely engages the brain. 🙂 I played MMORPG for years, though I gave that up, too. Writing takes a lot of my time, and I prefer it that way. 🙂 My husband is a little jealous over your TV, though. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

  3. @ Coldhand: If not for the DVR, I’d probably never get to see Doctor Who, and I’m always surprised how ruthlessly I delete recordings of other stuff. I took the time to set it to record and then a couple weeks later, I delete it, unwatched. (But never Doctor Who…nope). 🙂

  4. Fascinating topic! I do allow myself some TV at the end of the day when I’m too brain dead to read. I will say, however, that like you I am all about the DVR–let me choose what I will watch–and I only watch scripted programming. I actually enjoy, as a writer, breaking down what the writers are doing in terms of plot, character, and narrative arc.

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