Salon Saturday: Kill the TV (or at least maim it)

“You have to give away your TV, you have to read out loud two hours a day minimum. You have to walk in the hills alone and always carry a notebook.” – Kate Braverman

These are Braverman’s words of advice for would-be writers. Now, I don’t think I will be giving away our TV but something must change. It’s a love/hate thing we have going on, more hate than love, lately. I hate all the time I waste. I hate how cranky and lethargic I feel after over-indulging. I hesitate to use the word “addict” because I don’t want to equate TV watching with drugs or alcohol which do real harm. But there is something incredibly seductive about TV. It is so available. One click and you are immersed in another world of supposed “reality” or fantasy or sports. You can pretty much pick your poison. It’s an escape. Escape from what, though? Life?

A quick Google search and it is apparent that I am not the only person who struggles with this. Giving up TV yields pages and pages of links to people struggling with the exact same issue. As an artist, I find it especially insidious. I use it to avoid my writing. Clichéd characters and storylines run deep grooves in my subconscious, filtering into my own writing once I pull myself away from the idiot box long enough to write. Just as writing begets writing, watching TV begets watching TV.

In the last six months i have visited my sister out in Colorado twice, for ten days each time. They do not have a TV. And while I am there I find myself reveling in the silence. The silence around me and in my head. It is soothing. Like a sorbet for the spirit. For the imagination. I find myself dreading coming home, back to the lure of all my “favorite” shows. Half the time I complain about those exact shows, so why watch them? Habit, mostly. And habits are made to be broken, especially  habits that appear to be breaking me.

I am not unrealistic. I don’t plan on going cold turkey. But I do have a plan:

1. No more reruns. Seriously, if I can recite the next line before it is said, that is just wrong. So I am going to reset the DVR so it tapes only first run shows.

2. I am going to cancel any series I have set to record. That way I have to remember to set it each week and I imagine that’ll get pretty old, pretty fast.

3. Habits are hard to break and currently my habit is to have breakfast with Jon Stewart. Instead of taping it at 11 pm, I can watch the replay of it the next afternoon while I eat lunch, after I get my writing done for the day.

By implementing those three things, I think that’ll slash my viewing time by more than half. We’ll see. It is 6:36 pm and I have not watched one show today. I’ll report on this experiment next week.

How about you? Is TV your Achilles heel or is it something else? What habit do you hide behind? What keeps you from being your best Self? Please share your experience in the comments section.



3 thoughts on “Salon Saturday: Kill the TV (or at least maim it)

  1. The first step for me was to lose cable, and during the summer when everything I liked to watch was in reruns, I spent so much time writing. And the hi-def broadcasting? Never did hook up an antenna that would bring that in. Don’t need it really because you can get the DVD or watch episodes of just about everything online anyway, but except for occasional binges on youtube, I pretty much don’t bother. Given that I tend to be a compulsive TV watcher once it’s on, this has been surprisingly painless.

  2. I can usually write with the TV playing as background noise. How good that writing is . . . that’s the question! I’ve found if I absolutely want background noise but don’t want to get distracted I just turn on some music. Either the music channel on cable or crank up Pandora (rock opera has the perfect vibe for scary stories). Good luck with kicking the TV habit!

  3. I am not too interested in watching TV but my husband is, which means that it is a background noise most of the time. For me, finding the time to write is an issue -between a full time job, two kids and a hubby, it is hard to have time to write. I tend to be quite picky with the programme I watch anyway. Chocolate is a bigger temptation…

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