Monday, 24 August 2015

Don't Switch On the Television In The First Place

I’ve just returned from a week-long holiday in Scotland (which also included a week of entertaining my seven-year-old nephew … so it wasn’t exactly a relaxing holiday, as such). But it was a holiday with a difference because the only television in the entire self-catering property was located on the upstairs landing. There were no televisions downstairs, and none of the bedrooms had one.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a big television fan. I like to keep abreast of the news. The Great British Bake Off is a must at the moment, as is its associated Extra Slice (Friday evening). If the soaps are on then I may keep tabs with what’s going on, but I can just as easily forget them. The Family Guy cartoon series will often attract my attention, even though I’ve probably seen every episode six times now. But even so, it’s surprising how often the television gets switched on just as background noise, or with the intention of switching it off when the news is over, only to find two hours later that I’ve gained a sudden interest in Eastern Russian nomadic living according to the latest celebrity chef. 

But last week, while I was away, it was more difficult for the television to attract my attention. So I read. Or wrote. I also did a lot of thinking … because it was quiet. It highlighted to me that although I’m pretty disciplined (if I have a deadline and I need to focus then the television stays switched off and doesn’t distract me at all), if there’s no urgent deadline then I do have a tendency to switch on the television. And once it’s on it soon sucks my attention from other activities.

So I’ve made a decision. In the evenings the television only goes on if there’s a specific programme I want to watch. If there’s nothing on, then it doesn’t get switched on. I’ll read. Which is probably a good thing, because while I was on holiday we went to a bookshop and I bought three new books. (Three? That’s quite refrained for me!) Or I’ll write. Or think. 

Review your writing area to identify any distracting machines, and consider ditching them, or keeping them switched off, and then consider what impact this has on your writing life. You may not get any more writing done. You might decide to read instead. But reading is just as important to writers as writing is. And reading helps us to think, too. Which means that more thinking could spark off more ideas. And what’s a writer without ideas?


Good luck.

12 comments:

  1. Interesting to see what you watch, Simon! (I'm also into the GBBO this year - it's just relaxing isn't it? Although on the downside, it does make me want to eat lots of CAKE!). Must admit, that while I'm not good in other areas - eg: I'm addicted to the internet (that's why I 'suffered' at Fishguard!) - I can take or leave the TV. There's never much on, imo! This week I'm 'home alone' and apart from GBBO I'm not intending to turn the TV on at all! (*she says smugly*)

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    1. I might just check up to see whether you've achieved the 'No telly' rule this week then!

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  2. I'm quite good regarding the TV. It stays off most of the time - except on occasion during lunch when I might have a looksey to see and hear what the Loose Women team have to say. That can be rather entertaining at times. My main distraction tends to be the coffee machine - especially if the writing isn't progressing in the way I want it to.

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    1. Actually, I find the kettle a useful distraction. If I get stuck trying to come up with a word I want, I often find getting up and putting the kettle on helps! I think it's something to do with the physical motion of getting up and walking about. Mind you, the fact that I drink so much tea probably doesn't say much for my word power!

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  3. It's news, wildlife, current affaris and scinece show for me. Soaps are used to clean things, not good on a telly: sports - tell me the final whistle is struck. As for what is sloosely called comedy these days ... don't make me laugh, not a patch on Tommy and Ball, Little an Large, The Crankies ... ... ...

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    1. The Crankies? You're showing your age now! ;-)

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  4. When I began studying with the Writers Bureau less than four years ago, I didn't have a Facebook account, nor was I on Twitter.

    I didn't have an iPad which I could just reach for anytime my hands were idle.

    There was just me, plus my home PC, with my assignments to focus on.

    It would be worth my taking time to assess just how many potential distractions I have today when I want to sit down and focus on a piece of writing.

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    1. Actually, Colin, it can be a good exercise, undertaking a time audit and logging everything you do, including distractions!

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  5. It's interesting how, when the TV is on, even though there's nothing on you want to specifically watch, it draws you in and you end up losing a couple of hours of your life!

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    1. That's right, Julie - it is a couple of hours of your life that you can't get back, isn't it?

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  6. It's interesting how, when the TV is on, even though there's nothing on you want to specifically watch, it draws you in and you end up losing a couple of hours of your life!

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  7. It's interesting how, when the TV is on, even though there's nothing on you want to specifically watch, it draws you in and you end up losing a couple of hours of your life!

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