Hey–TV Is My Process

- by Chris Marie Green

I watch way too much TV.

I’ve never added up how many hours per week until I decided to do this blog entry, but when I did do the math, I was shocked at the total, including both television series and movies.

And if you think I’m giving you that total-nope. I’m way too embarrassed, LOL.

However, I realized something important about these hours spent in front of the tube: TV watching is actually a part of my writing process.

Yeah, I can hear you saying it now: “What a justification for being a lazy butt.” But truly. Not only does sitting there with pretty pictures flashing in front of my eyes allow me to relax my computer screen-weary gaze, I keep a pile of paper at my side, and there are some nights that I’ll end up with ten pages of notes about a work in progress.

I fill plot holes. I build worlds. I mourn the departure of PUSHING DAISIES.

Anyway, I suppose TV watching gives me permission to let my mind wander, and I enter a zone that’s similar to the one I feel when I’m also walking, taking a shower, drifting off to sleep, or driving a car. (And, yes, that last item is scary, but I’m only being honest.) I’ve had some of my most exciting ideas while watching something as seemingly random as TOP CHEF or a car chase during LIFE ON MARS.

Once, when I mentioned my TV Process to a non-writing friend, she said, “Oh. So it’s kind of like copying?”

Um, no. It’s more like free association, where perhaps I hear a loud noise on the television, and since I’ve got vampires on my mind, I’ll think, “Oooo-what if my vamps emitted a loud, alarming noise that allowed them to scare away a threat?” Or maybe I’ll see a crazy baroque creation on PROJECT RUNWAY, and that’ll give me an idea-a vibe-of how a character’s over-the-top bedroom might be decorated. (A bedroom where a vampire will be drawn to the victim/character’s romantic sensibilities and sneak up on her and… Hey-I’ve got the makings of a scene! Nice.)

As strange as it sounds, we’ve got writing tools all around us, and I just happen to use the TV for “marinating” time. So, really, I’m working during most of those bum-numbing television hours.

Does anyone else out there have an out-of-the-ordinary “writing tool”? Someone who comments will win a copy of my last vampire-themed Blaze, GOOD TO THE LAST BITE, so best of luck!

(I’ll be drawing the winner this Friday, the 19th.)


  1. no i dont write all the ideas sounds creative, good luck, very hot cover

  2. I actually use TV time as revising time. It pretty much started because my autistic son needs supervision when he’s home, even when he’s watching TV. To avoid losing the writing time, I started using it for revisions. Now, I don’t ALWAYS revise when watching, but it does seem to be the best time for me to do so and to tinker with my stories.

  3. I challenge you to a “too much TV” duel! You can’t watch more than me. :) I get ideas from TV–especially reality TV, or maybe it is more characterization. But it definitely is part of the process somewhere.
    Other weird things I do to help the process is free cell or Mahjong on WebKinz. There is something about working through a puzzle that helps get my brain back to work on the book. :)

  4. Chris –

    I use online poker (free games – I don’t play for money) as down-time. Something about engaging the analytical part of the mind allows the creative part to wander and pick flowers and come up with ideas. There are also “sparks” around – things that make me think “what if…” – such as the creative handles other players choose and their chat during the game. Since I’m a people-watcher, it’s a convenient people-watching forum.

  5. Hey, all! Great to see you, kh and domynoe, and Pati–that’s interesting about “people watching” during online poker. (I forbid myself from trying it though, because I know I’d get sucked right in, LOL.) I keep telling myself that I’m going to take a day off sometime to go to Disneyland, sit on a bench near Main Street, and do some people watching. Of course, I’d need to bring a big old notepad with me….

  6. Catalog shopping or rather page shopping. Just flipping through a catalog or look at a website of clothing can give me an idea of a character’s wardrobe choices and their personality. If it’s not clothing its furniture.

    Sometimes building their external world i.e. clothing, furniture and vehicle choice can help tell me who they are as a person. Even listening to music can tell me their emotional state of mind. Watching movies can be good because the atmosphere of said movie could help create something similar in the book you are writing. All these little things are great tools to me. :-)

  7. Selena – I use catalogs and magazines to find “wardrobe” for my characters, too. Also I will sometimes cut out a picture just because it’s interesting, and later use it in a collage.

  8. LOL, Lori! I’ll just say that’s it over 20 hours a week…. ;)

    Selena (Hey!) and Pati–I used to do a lot of catalog cutouts to create characters. Sort of like paper dolls but I couldn’t change their clothing, LOL. It really is a good idea-generator.

  9. thati is good with the pics in magazine, people watching is fun

  10. : ), kh.

    Okay, it’s time to announce the winner of the book!

    Selena, you’re it!

    Thank you all so much, and I hope your holidays are wonderful. :)

  11. wtg selena

  12. This advice is really going to help, thanks.