Therapy…or Just an Excuse to Watch TV?

Hello (waves) and welcome! I’m excited to be participating in this blog hop via Writer Therapy. My blog is kinda like the new kid right now: very shy but desperate to make friends!

I like this idea of “writing therapy”–it makes procrastination (especially my procrastination) seem more acceptable some how. Like I’m doing something instead of avoiding doing what I should be doing (which we all know is putting proverbial–or real if you roll that way–pen to paper and writing like there’s no tomorrow). And if I’m really savvy about my choice of writing therapy, I can actually convince myself that it’s some sort of “homework assignment” meant to help me grow as a writer.

Right?

When I’m not writing, you can find me in one of three places:

  1. On Twitter
  2. Parked in front of the TV watching Netflix via the XBox 360
  3. Reading in bed

I know, I know. At least two of these are Really Bad Forms of Procrastination and should totally earn me a Writer’s Dunce Cap or maybe some sort of Bad Human Award. I’ll admit, freely and up front, that BOTH Twitter and Netflix are two of the largest time sucks. I mean, you start with one episode of Doctor Who or Downton Abbey via Instant Watch and next think you know, it’s 3 o’clock in the morning and you’ve forgotten to feed the cats all day… 

But I digress. Let me start at the bottom of my list with perhaps the most obvious of therapies: reading in bed.

Reading in bed has always, for me, been a way to unwind at the end of the day. It’s a way for me to take all the worries and stresses that accumulated during the day and just not so much forget about them, but rather not focus on them. It’s like Yoga for my mind.

TV is similar, in that it’s really easy to plop down on the couch and just shuffle all my woes to the back of my mind for a few hours. But here’s where TV becomes a bit more instructional. Because TV is meant to be digested in short bursts (the average TV episode is about 50 minutes long and an average movie is about two hours) vs. books, which take hours to read (if read in one sitting) or days/weeks if read a chapter (or two) at a time. In a compact amount of time, one can view an entire story, or nearly an entire story. If one is a savvy viewer/multi-tasker, a few hours in front of the boob tube becomes an opportunity to delve into structures of storytelling!

Last, but not least… Twitter. Raise your hand if you open your Twitter account to “quickly check” Tweets only to find, when you come up for air, that two or three hours have whooshed right on by? (Don’t be shy… raise your hand!).  I’ll admit, I’m a Twitter addict. I currently freelance write form home and it’s really easy to keep Twitter open in a browser (and I do).  But what I’ve done is custom tailored my Twitter feed to include *mostly* writers, agents, editors, publishing houses, and industry insiders. Sure, I have a small smattering of friends and an even smaller smattering of news outlets and  public figures that I follow but I’ve purposefully kept it small… like of the 372 people/entities I follow, about  120 are friends, news entities, or public figures. That means that roughly 250 are book writing and publishing related. I also follow a small number of publishing/writing hashtags like #pubtip, #editortips, #amwriting, #writing, or #writetip for insider tips and, in the case of the last on, chats with writers and agents. There’s an extensive list of hashtags for writers here.

For me, my writing therapies are about maximizing my time. If I’m not physically banging out a story, I’m thinking about the intricacies of structure, character development, or other elements of writing.

Tricky, no?

Currently:

  • Reading: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her Own Making, by Catherynne M. Valente; Some Kind of Fairy Tale, by Graham Joyce
  • Watching:  Revenge, Boardwalk Empire, Alias
  • Tweeting: all sorts of stuff! (find me @tinapickles)
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16 responses to “Therapy…or Just an Excuse to Watch TV?

  1. I don’t see watching TV as procrastination. I see it as letting off some steam. Besides, I literally break down every little bit of what I’m watching and can usually guess within 5 minutes what the main plot points are going to be.
    Anyways, stopping by from the hop! Hello=)

    • Me too–and it’s actually a habit I started way before my writing habit! I took a couple of media studies type classes in college and a lot of them were all about breaking down the visual to interpret the story. I can’t help but do it now. I’m constantly thinking “OK–so this character looked this way on the screen which means they feel this way… how would I write that?”

  2. Hi there! Jolene here from http://www.penandmuse.com ! I totally understand how your writing therapy is about maximizing your time. Sometimes, just as you said, it’s tough with all the distractions out there. But isn’t it the best feeling in the world when you’ve accomplished your writing goals? There’s nothing better!

  3. I love the title to this post! And I agree you can’t just watch one episode of Dr. Who or Downton Abbey at a time! I’m totally guitly. And I too spend a lot of time of twitter. There’s just so many great things there!

    • The hashtag conversations (i.e. #NALitChat, #YAChat, #AgentChat) are very much so worth the effort and time suck of logging on! Nothing beats being able to ask an agent or an editor for advice for free!

  4. Sadly, I am not savvy when it comes to TV. I just sit and let my mind turn off, for the most part.

    I avoid Twitter for the most part because of the aforementioned problem with 2 hours passing by!

    Now I just need to avoid YouTube for the same reason….

    • Twitter is a great break for me because I need like a 2 second break, so I see what’s happening on twitter. But I can see why it would take so much time! I’m also too analytical when I watch TV – Jed often complains because I’ve ruined too many shows by overanalyzing. I think he’s used to it now, and has started picking up the habit himself. But sometimes I really do just want to sit down and relax, so watch a comedy usually helps. A really well-written comedy, like Fawlty Towers or Arrested Development.

    • My current YouTube love is The Lizzie BennettDiaries. I’m not a huge fan of Jane Austen, though I respect her immensely as a very savvy writer who (if you read between the lines of romance and read what’s happening in the background) very adroitly writes about the milieu of her time. The Lizzie Bennett Diaries are in vlog format and are HILARIOUS!

  5. I agree with the other comments – and I LOVE reading in bed. Though now I have an office with a special reading chair that is just so comfy. So I’ve moved my reading to there. But a good book is not only a great way to escape, but it really helps me better evaluate my own writing.

  6. Twitter? Who me? Hardly ever…And what evil genius created Pinterest I’d like to know? Talk about a rabbit hole…full of lovely things… I read your NaNo post too. It made me even more relieved that I’m not NaNoing, as I tend towards the write, think, delete, rewrite, rinse, repeat process too. I don’t have a daily word count goal EVER so an externally imposed one just seems like asking for trouble.

    • I’m still on the fence about NaNo. I’m also travelling the beginning of November to apartment hunt in FL, so it just might not be feasible.

  7. Okay, I have done the twitter thing, falling into the black hole of just. one. more. tweet. And I agree that I have mostly writing resources on Twitter. That was the whole reason for even starting a Twitter account for me. I have discovered agents I never would have and links that have been invauable — like Writing Therapy! Great post. See you on Twitter! @DavHalt

  8. I don’t watch much tv these days, and haven’t for a long time. This confession might make some throw tomatoes at me or doubt my otherwise intellectual predilections, but I really learnt a lot about how to craft a multi-generational, long-lasting family/town saga from all the soap opera watching I did from the time I was a preteen to somewhere in my twenties.

    • YES! When I taught my screenwriting course (in my former life as a college instructor), I made them watch an episode of a soap opera for that very reason. There’s so much that goes into building these overly dramatic worlds and it’s worked for so long (for some shows) that it’s worth taking a look at, IMHO.

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