"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
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Monday, February 17, 2014

How the "Boob Tube" Can Make You a Smarter Writer!

Forget what you’ve been told.
You know: that TV is a total waste of time.
That like Kryptonite, it weakens brain cells.
That intellectuals don’t “indulge”.
Not true. Some do.
And if your goal is to become a better writer this year, you’d be “wise” to do so too.

Here are Four Fundamental reasons why...

  1. Because TV viewing broadens your perspective, your horizons, and your knowledge base.
  2. Because it mirrors humanity--the good and the bad.
  3. Because it enables you to be more objective and analytical about your own body of work--regardless of the genre.
  4. Because if used properly, it can be a learning tool just as much as any other medium or device.

  5. The key? Filtering.
    No doubt, some of what is presented to the viewing public is crap. Like junk food, it’s fast and easy without any real value and sustenance.
    But, just like with any other industry--there's good and there's bad. However, if you're receptive, it can really be enlightening, innovative and entertaining.
    It all depends on your “lens”.
    I liken it to social media: it can be both harmful and useful, depending upon how it's applied.
    Wouldn't you agree?

    And from a recreational standpoint, TV is one of those "fat-free" guilty pleasures that allows you to unwind in the comforts of your own home.
    If you're really "creative" it can even be shared as "family time" to impart important lessons and to discuss moral issues and current events of the day.

    With this being said, here are a few of my favorites for today's writer. Popcorn optional.

    Shark Tank---The Tank gives new meaning to the expression, "sink or swim". Here's a briefing. It's an American Reality show by ABC, that features a panel of filthy-rich entrepreneurs turned investors. Each willing to partner up with and finance the projects of new/aspiring business owners, seeking backing to either expand their business, secure more space for operation, or take their ideas to the next level. Sharks provide needed expertise, contacts, and capital, if they believe that the product or service will be profitable. Sometimes the "Sharks" compete to do individual deals, while at other times two or more will go in together for a piece of the pie.

    The "Tank" is must-watch TV because it underscores the importance of effective pitching. Something writers do everyday whether it's pitching a query, a book proposal, or creative services to a potential client. Are you with me here? Like a course in "Business 101" it also addresses topics like branding, marketing strategies, pricing, and making the most of first impressions and limited opportunities. An added bonus is that the guys on the panel are not bad to look at either. :-)

    The Celebrity Apprentice---Created by real estate tycoon, Donald Trump, the Celebrity Apprentice pits two teams of celebrities against each other (men vs.women) to compete for money for their designated charities through various tasks. The last man standing is the one who ultimately wins the title of "Celebrity Apprentice" and earns a large sum of dough and a key position within Trump's organization.

    Hugely entertaining, the show teaches the importance of effective leadership, working in a group dynamic, following directions properly, and how to handle the heat in board room settings.
    How is this applicable to writers? Think about creative collaborations. Think about working with difficult clients. Think about accountability. It's all here. 
         THE SHOW:
         Dancing with the Stars---As the name implies, it's a weekly reality show where famous folks compete through dancing routines for a "Mirror Ball" trophy and bragging rights. They come from an array of different backgrounds, (actors, athletes, comedians, and even talk show hosts). And they have little to no professional training.

     DWTS is about "performing" outside of our comfort zones-- whether it's writing in a new genre,    dealing with a new editor, or submitting a piece for a contest. It's about dealing with criticism with grace. It's about getting "up" each time we fall. It's about having the "wow" factor that allows us to outshine the competition. This show is definitely about more than dancing.
Courtroom TV---The options are endless: from Judge Judy, to Judge Mathis, to "Boss Ross" to People's Court.
Courtroom TV can impart valuable lessons on liability, business law, strategic thinking, and the components of a solid contract, (without the expense of a personal attorney).
And did I mention, the "eye candy" element presented by some of the bailiffs? :-)
This concludes today's "program" at Pen and Prosper. Check your local listings for details on the shows reflected here.
You'll soon discover how the "boob tube" can help inspire your muse, provide a more informed opinion, and enable you to earn more money.

Besides, being a "Couch Potato" means that you're adding that required vegetable to your daily diet, right? :-)

Agree or disagree? Any show you'd add here?

Please note: The formatting errors contained in this post are due to Blogger issues/glitches that I can't seem to correct at this time. My apologies here.

Image: Freedigitalphotos.net


  1. Well we certainly get a glimpse of lifestyles with reality TV, which I have difficulty watching. But I do like Shark Tank. I spend most of my TV viewing at bedtime watching sitcoms. I usually find myself saying, "That's just like you...or me...or US."
    Happy writing.

    1. Hi Lin,

      It seems that you and I have a viewing habit in common: I watch sitcoms before bed too. I find the news too depressing to fall to sleep to. Thanks for stopping by and starting us off. :-)

  2. Television has come a long way - for good and for ill. You're right on with many of your points, Jen. Modern writers need to know what's going on in the world and television gives us a window to do just that. I mean, where would we Downton Abbey addicts be without it? Smile. Excellent post!

    1. Thanks, Sue. I believe that "good" writers should be like sponges; they should absorb as much as they can to have a broad knowledge base and an informed perspective. Like you. :-)