Boosting Creativity by Ditching the Video Poison

10_29_15I’m back from a lovely Thanksgiving holiday and buckling down to seriously crank on THE EDGE OF THE BLADE. Since I’ve been writing full-time, I haven’t consistently hit the hit word count goals I’d like to. In fact, I’ve felt like I’ve been writing more slowly since summer and I haven’t been sure why.

(Though I told writing buddy Anne Calhoun that I felt like I spent all of July sitting in the grape arbor, doing nothing, and she said, “Amen, sister,” so it might not be just me.)

Still, I’ve got a January 1 deadline for this book, so I’m out of arbor-dawdling time. Plus it’s too cold out for that. So, on the drive home yesterday, I constructed a new daily schedule and looked hard at where I could improve productivity. And I realized a Huge Thing. In midsummer, I stopped listening to music while I ran on the treadmill in the mornings, and started watching videos on my iPad mini instead.

There were good reasons for this at the time. I was doing very particular research and watching the videos killed two birds with one stone – entertained me while I ran and provided time to watch the stuff I needed to. After that, I kept going, watching various musicals, as I could find and stream them.

No harm done, right?

WELL.

A lot of you know I gave up watching TV a long time ago. Wow, like almost twenty years ago, we ditched the cable, happy to save that money. The cost savings was a side-benefit, however. My main reason was because of something I read in Stephen King’s ON WRITING. I was trying to work out how to be a writer and consumed all sorts of craft books like that one. I’m paraphrasing here because I can’t find my copy (did YOU borrow it??), but he said that it’s no accident he grew up without TV and became such a vivid creative writer. He called TV poisonous to creativity and urged all writers to give it up.

So, I did. It was a pretty easy choice for me, as the sound of the TV going in the background always irritated me. I was born to a mother who claimed the way to meet the ideal man would be in the Tattered Cover Bookstore during a Broncos game. Fortunately the man I had found (though not in Tattered Cover) fully supported the idea. My teenage stepdaughter not so much, but she was gracious about it.

And it worked!

At least, I felt like it did. Enhancing creativity in oneself is not a clear-cut enterprise that can be measured quantitatively. However, over the years, we never regretted the move, and often counted our blessings not to be subjected to the sensationalized news and pharmaceutical advertising so many complained of. As time passed, we were able to access Netflix and Internet streaming. We watch a lot of movies and sometimes TV series. No more than one movie or two episodes of a show each evening, after my writing day was over.

Until I started on my video-watching while running kick. Could that have impacted my creativity and productivity? Surely not! And yet… the timing worked out.

So, today I went back to running to music. And my productivity zoomed up. Maybe that’s a coincidence. Maybe it won’t be reproducible. Still, I believe that watching those videos before my morning writing put my creative mind in the wrong mode. Music it is, from now on.

Something to consider, if you’re struggling with ways to clear your writing mind!

3 Replies to “Boosting Creativity by Ditching the Video Poison”

  1. Huh. Food for thought. I was so creative at one point but now I realize I mostly wrote after everyone else was asleep (husband, dogs, television). When my husband died the first thing to go was the cable contract, the second a freezer full of ice cream. I now enjoy the silence and productivity is beginning to grow.
    Smart man, that King guy. Almost as smart as you.

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