Do you still watch TV? Are you out of your mind?! It will fry your brain and leave no traces of critical thinking in there!
This is what people often say about spending time in front of the blue screen. But is it as bad as it’s painted?
Of course, watching brainwashing election campaigns might as well leave you mentally exhausted and feeling “fried”. But when it comes to animated films and other propaganda-free content… the distinction is not that obvious.
In fact, it has been found that watching Harry Potter and similar fantasy movies increased creativity in children. Researchers from Lancaster University, UK, examined the connection between magical TV stories and creativity by exposing pre-school children to short clips from Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone. The children were then asked to fulfill some creativity tasks, such as pretending they were a rabbit or a car driver, as well as finding as many uses as possible for a plastic cup. Children who watched the movie performed significantly better than the control group.
It is only natural to assume, therefore, that being exposed to some TV content can influence the way you generate ideas, which is what the creative process often needs. A strong pro-TV argument, don’t you think?
How exactly can you use TV to boost your writing creativity, however? Here are a few possible ways to do it.
- Making breaks in between writing sessions. You must know that feeling of being stuck. It’s not a writer’s block just yet, but it will grow into one if you let it happen. The key to preventing it is putting your writing aside and looking for distractions. A good TV show may be the one! Again, look for something neutral that won’t wear you down like presidential debate or 16 And Pregnant.
- Looking for ideas. There are so many great shows that make you think, think, think… make sure to watch them before you get to writing. HubSpot, an online marketing agency, in its learning course dedicated to writing, explains that the process of gathering ideas always precedes actual writing. When your brain is looking for ideas, it is extremely receptive to all kinds of information. That’s why the more good stuff you watch, the more likely you are to come up with brilliant ideas of your own.
- Changing the perspective. There are opinions out there that are contrary to your own, even if for you it all seems black and white. Some of them are not worth knowing; others can help you understand things you didn’t understand before. Think of the way media of other countries covers political crises or war events. In the first place, it helps your critical thinking, but it may also help you understand the nuances and go for deeper, more comprehensive concepts.
- Consuming more content. How long would it take you to read A Tale of Two Cities? And how long would it take to watch it? The difference is obvious. While we all know that a good writer is made by what she reads, watching can be seen as an advanced form of reading. Some nuances are lost on the set, but the speed makes up for it.
And here is yet another possible benefit – boosting your emotional intelligence, which is a must-have quality for a writer. Research from the University of Oklahoma has found out that watching high-quality TV drama can help us better understand the inner lives of others. These findings were based on previous research by Black and Barnes that attributed similar benefits to literary fiction.
Participants of the research were able to identify emotions by simply looking at the images of pairs of eyes. Surprisingly enough, those who watched fiction outperformed those who watched documentary movies. Whether other types of TV programs would deliver similar results is yet to be seen.
In conclusion, a TV is not an enemy – just like video games don’t cause violence on their own. It is the person that watches or plays them. If you learn to use it to your advantage, TV can become a powerful source of creativity, imagination, and inspiration and help you write better papers without all the related stress. If not, you may as well stop watching it at all, as no good will come out of that. The choice is yours.