TV is a Time Suck For Writers…right?

TV.jpgI was all set to write a post that was an argument for watching some TV. I am currently reading Pen on Fire: A Busy Woman’s Guide to Igniting the Writer Within by Barbara DeMarco-Barrett. She has a chapter in the book entitled “That Black Hole: TV”. I was about to read the chapter but I was approaching my station and I don’t read and walk. While I walked the rest of the way to work, I thought about my arguments for watching TV and being a writer.

  • I have only a few ‘guilty pleasures’ that I watch
  • I don’t watch junk TV only educational shows
  • When I watch a movie I pay attention to character arc, plot, etc.

I was all set, and then I read the chapter. My argument fell apart. She poked holes in all of my points.

It is true that people watch way too much TV and they aren’t watching NOVA or American Experience. Most of them aren’t even watching good TV such as Masterpiece.

It made me think about what I watch during the year. To my defense, a lot of the shows I do watch are because my daughter watches them. Our time spent together is limited (we both are in school and work) so at night, when we are both home, we watch a recorded show. These shows I would not have watched to begin with, and some I won’t watch when she moves out (providing they are still on).

Out of the shows that are my choice, I hardly get to them on the DVR. If I’m bored, I may watch one episode, but I’m not all in.

Shows like Game of Thrones I invest a lot of time and brain power. That is a show that was my choice. The same with Dowton Abbey. These are shows that I started watching and it grew into an obsession.

Other shows I watch for pleasure include: The Big Bang Theory, Mom and Project Runway. But aside from these few live TV shows, I don’t watch much. I do find I watch a lot of streaming. If one looks around, there are some interesting shows sandwiched between the junk.

So yes, I watch TV, and I like TV. I like to write too. DeMarco-Barrett said “If you must watch TV, write first.” I try to do this, or I write after. When my daughter is working, I generally turn the TV off at 9pm or earlier. If I’m not exhausted, I’ll write for an hour.

I also write a lot during the day when my work is slow. So I feel justified to veg in front of the TV at night.

I am not one of those people who will get rid of my TV, but I don’t watch as much as I used to. During the week I may get 2 hours per day in, the weekend maybe 4.

Sometimes I do use TV for research purposes. I know that people say this, but in my case it is true. Especially if I’m writing in a different era. I not only look at the scenery, I listen to the dialogue, the cadence of the speech. This would mean I watch movies on TV as opposed to TV shows. Is there a difference?

So I have no argument for watching TV or not watching TV. I would say everything in moderation. If you want to write, perhaps cut back on the TV watching. Although I think for serious writers, that comes naturally.

About Liz Kelso
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