Television is a Vampire That Feeds on Writers

Family gathered around television

“I offer you my entire family. Feast!”

Today, as usual, I procrastinated quite a bit before sitting down to do this post. I ate a bagel, watched a few shaky, grainy teaser trailers captured via fans’ cell phones at San Diego Comic Con (one of them was a brief scene in Ben Affleck’s in-production Batman V Superman. Batman looks fat and slow and his eyes glow white, fyi), listened to some Beatles on my iTunes, which I’m actually still doing as I write this. Past Masters Volume 2.

I guess my preferred form of procrastination is to enjoy the fruits of somebody else’s creative labor. Anything that’ll sort of get me whipped up into geek mode, because then I’m usually primed to do some writing of my own. Sometimes I’ll read a chapter or two from a book, or maybe I’ll just stare at the wall and just think about how much I like some writer or filmmaker.

What I’ll never do is allow myself to sit down in front of a television, even for a split second. It’s a major black hole, the television, no matter if you’re watching the news or a movie or whatever.

I’ve found that the moment I lower my guard and switch to passive “television watching” mode, I lose ALL momentum. I slip into a nose-dive from which recovery is near impossible. I’m telling you, I regard a live, flickering television like it’s some kind of violent, salivating productivity vampire. I can survive in it’s general vicinity for the few moments it takes me to make coffee or have breakfast or something, but, for me at least, that act of sitting down on the couch is sort of like ringing the dinner bell for Nosferatu.

The sitting down, the surrendering, that’s the killer. If someone beckons me to the television with a “hey, you need to see this,” I’ll usually come and watch, but I’ll stand behind the couch. Even if the video in question lasts a whole twenty minutes, I’ll stand there behind the couch like some kind of android in sleep mode. Because once you sit down, the television can smell you.

This is not to say I never sit down in front of the television, but when I do, it means I’ve made a conscious decision to give up all creative productivity for the day, to abandon all  projects, including even reading. I rarely do this. Maybe four or five times a month (including weekends) I’ll give myself permission to idly “veg out” in front of the TV like Homer Simpson.

Please note, I’m not including Netflix streaming here. Sometimes, if I’ve gotten myself hooked on some television show like Breaking Bad, I’ll allow myself to watch an episode or three on my laptop before I go to sleep. Watching Netflix directly before I go to sleep is acceptable, because at that point all live creative endeavors have been, too, put to bed.

What about you, Reader? Do you willingly sacrifice yourself to the Productivity Vampire on a daily basis? Or are you a little more like me—distrusting of the television?

This post was based on a Daily Post prompt from over a week ago, which asked the writer to describe his/her favorite procrastination destination.






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11 Responses to Television is a Vampire That Feeds on Writers

  1. Doobster418 says:

    Alas, I spend more time sitting and watching TV than I care to admit. But there are times, after a long workday, when sitting there vegging out watching a good, compelling drama is just the thing! And then there’s that damn time-shifting DVR.

    • Bill Carson says:

      I forgot about that, and I totally agree: sinking into the couch and just turning off your brain for a while can be a great de-stressor after a difficult day.

  2. Yes, I definitely save TV viewing for the end if the day, the last couple of hours before I go to sleep. However, I do find a similar effect from the computer yet it us often more necessary to get on the computer during the day. In this case, I just try to do what I have to do and then move on.

    • Bill Carson says:

      yeah, it’s a bummer the computer is so integral to the writing process. There’s actually a cool app for Mac called “Freedom,” where you can turn off your internet connection for a set period of time, therefore eliminating the possibility of online procrastination. You basically set it and forget it. Of course, if you really wanted to, you could simply restart your computer and zero the clock, but that would mean you were truly hell-bent on procrastinating, which usually isn’t the case.

  3. yes, I can veg out to a computer game, tv-I did in the eighties.

  4. zareenn3 says:

    I remember that daily post prompt!
    Hmm interesting theory. It is kinda true though. The TV sucks the life out of you and once you have sit down you have to watch one thing after another and I just can’t seem to get up! Ugh!

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