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Should writers give up television?

The short answer to this question is “No. Not necessarily.”

There is a lot of really good television out these days and well-written shows featuring well-developed characters have the potential to inspire the work of both fiction and non-fiction writers alike.

That said, television has plenty of disadvantages, too. Studies have shown that messages on TV and in advertising can create unrealistic expectations and foster feelings of inadequacy. TV can promote a sedentary lifestyle and even cause married couples to have less sex! And often TV can be downright depressing.

But even if TV doesn’t have any of these negative effects on you, watching television obviously takes away time from reading (which can help us greatly improve our craft as writers) and takes away time from actually, you know, WRITING!

But I’m not here to bash writers for watching television.  Anyone who knows me well knows I LOVE TV.  However, I am giving up TV until Saturday, January 26.

To be honest, I’m doing this for the sake of my spiritual life, not my writer life. Every January my church embarks on 21 days of prayer and fasting during which members are encouraged to give up something for 21 days with the intention of growing closer to God. Each year I like to give up something food-related and something media-related. This year I’m fasting chips, sweets, and alcohol to work on my will power and self-control and I’m giving up TV so that I can spend that time reading the Bible, writing in my prayer journal, reading inspirational books, and listening to sermons.

I won’t be giving up trips to the movie theater and I’m still allowing myself to watch YouTube, but it can only be for sermons or educational videos.

Of course, these 21 days are about improving my relationship with God, but I must admit I’m hoping the next three weeks will do something for my byline and my waistline, too. By giving up TV I’m certain I’ll have more time to read and write. So it should be easier to send out pitches for freelance stories and brainstorm ideas for how to finally finish my book. And since fasting TV means I won’t accidentally eat an entire bag of chips while watching a Criminal Minds marathon, I’m hoping my pants will be easier to zip by the end of this month, too.

What are your thoughts on whether or not writers should watch television? 

PS – During these 21 days I’ll also be hosting the 2019 See Jane Write Virtual Summit. Click here to learn more and to sign up.