Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Filling the Void with TV

Since I was young, I needed noise to get work done. It's a funny balance, though. I can and did finish many hours of homework with the tv on. Around 4th grade I'd sit on the floor and use my bed as a desk, so I had the sound of afternoon cartoons behind me. (I also went to bed with the TV on, not purposely at first, and my dad would come in after I'd fallen asleep and turn it off, then one day he figured out how to set the timer.)

The trick to being productive hinged on having the right program. In the early to mid-90s, that meant X-Men cartoon reruns. A few years ago, it was The Wedding Singer and Music and Lyrics. The past few days I've discovered a new filler, something to keep me focused (something about absolute silence usually makes it hard for me to focus) without being so consuming that I ignore my work: Community.

My sister had season 1 and I'd missed some episodes, but even though I really enjoy this show and find Abed to be a great metafictional figure (in the picture below, he is doing a matrix-like run and leap in a Mad Max-esque game of paintball), I was able to watch it and still get my work done.

I even stayed up until 1 last night finishing some work and watching the Valentine's Day episode (extended version). Not everyone is a fan of Chevy Chase (I like him in Three Amigos), but the ensemble works really well together.

It's interesting how different people have different movies and shows that fulfill this role. Usually tv on dvd doesn't work for me. And some people can only work with music playing and not television--the visual aspect is distracting (and I've seen that happen far too often with myself). Others do need the silence.

So how about the rest of you? How do you work and write? What movies, shows, or music help keep you focused, if any?

[My playlists when I write are a whole 'nother post. ;) Maybe later.]


jjdebenedictis said...

Oof, I'm your opposite. I can't write at all if there's a television or music device on in the room.

The pathways in my brain that process language apparently aren't broad-band. If I can hear recognizable English words being spoken, then I simply can't concentrate on the words I'm trying to get on the page.

Owl said...

What jjdebenedictis said. I can't work when there's any noise at all. Makes me very cranky!

Sabrina said...

I have worked/written in silence before, but it always feels like I'm waiting for something else to come up or happen. When I've been productive without background noise, I'd started writing before putting anything on and was so in the zone I didn't want to interrupt it.

But that's the thing with writers, and people in general, I think. Everyone has a different process. For me, it might've developed because it's always noisy in a crowded house, so I decided to escape it by choosing the noise I wanted and play into the connections my memory makes with sounds (I still can't listen to a certain Ace of Base album without thinking of a Christopher Pike series I read in intermediate school).

That got really rambling, sorry. Anyway, thanks for sharing, and I hope you both are having a good 2011 so far.