I’m not always the most conventional writer. Other writers might tell you to sell your TV, cancel Netflix, and to do nothing but read books.
Their reasoning might not be altogether wrong either. You should cut out as many distractions as you can, where you can. When you’re working, focus on the work. But writing is more than work, right?
Here’s the thing, your work deserves your focus. And, more importantly, so do your readers.
But to live the writer’s lifestyle, there has to be a balance. Your soul needs a well-balanced diet. And hey, some even recommend chocolate milk after working out, so, who I am I to judge?
No better cure for idea-blockage
Sometimes the best ideas I’ve ever had have come to me while I was watching something on YouTube or binge-watching a show that had absolutely nothing to do with anything else I was working on.
And you know what? I’m not sorry.
To say nothing of your need for rest, immersing yourself in a good story, or flipping your brain to a different channel from time to time is actually really good for stretching your creative muscles and sparking new ideas.
Too much focus and too much drive do a lot more than making jack a boring-ass individual. They also lead to burnout.
Here’s the thing, this isn’t just for curing an idea blockage. It’s also about preventing one before they even happen.
Everything comes with a “yeah but” and of course you should always be careful to strike a balance. But, and maybe this is just me, I’ve found that my brain likes to work on different problems when it’s relaxing.
Again, maybe it’s just me, but I’ve found that when I’m sitting down to a good show with a decent story or watching my Vanlife videos and daydreaming about my one-person tiny home village I want to live in someday, that’s when the ideas start to pop.
What’s the problem with junk TV anyway?
What’s really so bad about something that can help you come up with new ideas?
OK, I get it, one big concern is when you do it too much or let it distract you from the real work at hand. Again, life is all about balance.
This is also why I like watching shows and YouTube videos instead of movies during the workweek. They’re shorter and easy to break up.
I can regulate how much exactly I’m watching and get back to the work at hand. I can also space out how much I watch throughout the week. Balance in action.
All the rules aside, there are some pretty good benefits to allowing yourself to be distracted for a little while. And not just the necessary relaxation either.
Ideas are the product of other ideas. When you watch a story or better yet, a documentary or something educational on YouTube, all the ideas you have stored up in the back of your brain starts to sit up and notice.
Our neurons are looking for links between things we know and things we’re trying to discover. It does it even when we aren’t fully paying attention.
This is the real magic of letting yourself be a little distracted for a while. Even while your brain is relaxing, it’s still working. It’s still looking for connections.
To quote R.L. Stine, “Viewer beware, you’re in for a scare.”
OK, now it’s time to talk about the balancing act that makes all of this possible. Everything has its own warning label and all the good stuff in life needs moderation. Healthy dosages of distraction and Junk TV included.
First off, let me just say plainly that I’m not advocating watching shows during the time designated for active work. But that’s up to you to set the boundary for and you to carefully guard.
The first question is, can you trust yourself? It’s a tough-love kind of question but it’s also vital. So, be honest, and don’t risk your work.
You don’t want to give yourself so much freedom with this that it becomes a bad thing and all those ideas start to wither on the vine and become excuses instead.
Find your balance, guard your time carefully, and be mindful of the distractions in your life. You need rest, and life should be about a lot more than work alone.
But your work needs you too and that means paying attention to any threat to your projects.
As writers, you and I are creatures of the mind, body, and soul. We have to exist as fully as we can at all levels. And we have to feed our ideas.
But we also have to be mindful of how much we’re feeding our minds and imaginations and what exactly it is we’re feeding ourselves. No idea is an island, so we have to be willing to expose ourselves to new ideas.
For me, this usually doesn’t just mean TV in the traditional sense. Mostly I watch short YouTube videos. But that isn’t the point, the point is to give your imagination a chance to do its magic and to find new sources of inspiration.
Just don’t forget to strike a balance and to rein yourself in when you need to.
Now it’s your turn, what shows do you love to watch to feed your mind and imagination?