The Perils (and Potential) of On-Demand TV

As a writer you have to fend off demands on your brain power – and find inspiration and tips wherever you can. In recent times this has been tricky. Staying in helps with writing. But mentally, we’ve maybe not been looking for distraction and escape.

Enter on-demand content. There’s the big daddy Netflix of course, but also Amazon, Apple TV, and now Disney+. On top of that many terrestrial services have on-demand options. And there are also piles of podcasts and the rabbit hole that is YouTube. Overall, this isn’t good news for any WiP that you might be striving away on and may leave you feeling guilty about your lack of progress. But let’s look at the good side of this particular indulgence.

It’s good to take a break

Taking time to relax is not a bad thing. I repeat it is not a bad thing. Society is forever telling us we should be “productive” 24/7 (often under the guise of being inspirational) but this simply isn’t possible. Your hobbies don’t have to be side-hustles, you aren’t required to always be “on it”. Time off is important, mentally and physically, especially in tricky times. And if that involves you metaphorically chowing down on the entirety of Downtown Abbey on a Sunday afternoon then so be it.

It can be a learning experience

All that being said, it’s also true that we writers can learn from what we watch. Screenwriters obviously can. But novelists and short story writers too. There’s plenty to absorb about the dos (and don’ts) of narrative and character. With so much content out there, writers have to become skilled at catching their audience. Fresh, original stories and characters are key. There have been many failures as well as successes, providing their own opportunity to learn. Even if you’re not up for taking notes, your unconscious mind may well be doing so.

Are you a binge-watching fan? What’s your favourite show – and what have you learnt from it? Please share in the comments!

Related reads

5 Ways Writers Can Benefit From Art

Writers and Insomnia – Friend or Foe?

6 Things Writers Should NOT do


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2 thoughts on “The Perils (and Potential) of On-Demand TV

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  2. I find myself, this year, waxing/waning between watching historical documentaries and recent ‘originals’ in streaming land (Amazon/Netflix/Disney subscriptions either I or my son pays for and we’re allowed to ‘share’ with each other – sans cable TV or satellite TV options!) – – I’ve learned SOOOO much on the whole about how ‘history’ tends to ‘look like, right now…” and ‘how it looks 50 years from now – or 500 years from now – – :D. Of how often the ‘same soundbyte’ arguments are made over and over throughout history given circumstances – – Noticing how those featured in a documentary 10-20 years ago said, flat out, “We are due a pandemic, but I think we will have the science and advancements (technology) to deal with it, given lessons learned from…[insert small pox, flu of 1918, The Black Death/Plague]” – – I watch things that pull at my heart strings thinking – “ahhh…that’s wonderful!” and shows based on ‘true story’ that I think, “well, I bet that individual feels rather silly, now….if they are still alive – ” – – Sigh – All it has done, this year of watching many things when I just couldn’t bear another moment of ‘being productive/producing something beneficial to the greater good’ etc., on multiple fronts – – well – all it has accomplished is re-affirmation of three of my core mottoes, that I learned from my Dad, early and often, 1. “There is nothing new under the sun” – 2. Live your life as if what you do every moment will be front page news in the local paper – and assess if you can live with that, or not – – 3. Never be scared to let others know that you’ve changed your mind and why” –

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