Stop Being Pretentious about Inspiration

This week’s blog post is going to be a short one (I’ll be honest, I got a new video game this week and I really just want to play it all day). This brings me to the topic at hand.

Many of us have this pretentious idea in our heads that writers shouldn’t enjoy themselves; rather, they should only enjoy doing things that relate to writing in some way. When a writer isn’t writing, we think they should be reading or taking a stroll through the park on a rainy day with a notebook in hand, scribbling down inspiration from the weather, from people-watching, or from some daemon that wriggled into their ear. We don’t think about writers sprawled out on the couch binge-watching Netflix, hunched over a video game console or playing Candy Crush on their phones. If we do see a writer doing something that we don’t deem “writerly,” we look down on them. We tell them they’re not a serious writer or a real writer. We accuse them of being a sellout or too mainstream, as if writers are part of some secret hipster club with a strict code of conduct. If there is such a club, I didn’t get an invite.

Thankfully, this is starting to shift with so many new, young writers coming onto the scene who grew up in the digital age, but social stigmas take a long time to dismantle. We’ve been told that things like TV and video games rot our brains out and choke creativity but every recent study on this matter seems to prove otherwise. You were probably warned about the dangers of TV, video games and the Internet by your parents. These warnings stem from the previous generation’s fear of technology. It was new and unknown and that made it a scary thing they wanted to protect their children from, but today’s children and young adults are finding a plethora of creative inspiration in the digital media they consume on a daily basis.

The truth is that TV and video games are a gushing wellspring of ideas for writers. There are so many excellent TV series on Netflix with complex characters and intricate plots. There are so many video games that are more like an interactive story than the shallow level-grinders you might remember from your childhood. Last week on the blog, I talked about how writers need to take a break from writing sometimes to recharge their batteries. I mentioned that I regularly get new ideas from watching TV shows on Netflix. In fact, years of watching the popular show Supernatural led me to writing The Heaven Corporation. It’s where I developed my interest in angels and the lesser-known details of Christian mythology. Was my inspiration less valuable than the inspiration another writer got from traveling the world with a notebook? I don’t think so. I’m not the only one, either. Suzanne Collins, author of the hit series, The Hunger Games, said that she was inspired to write the series from watching television. She was flicking the channels back and forth between a game show and footage of the war in Iraq. The two images combined gave her the idea for a world in which the suffering of the vulnerable is treated like a national spectacle and the world of Panem was born.

So the next time you see a writer indulging in a Netflix binge, playing with their phone or button-mashing a video game, take a moment before you judge and consider that they might be working harder than you.

Copyright © 2017 A.A. Frias

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