Why We're Addicted to Television & Movies & How it Can Help Writers
One of the reasons I believe we're addicted to Hollywood, celebrities, and movies is because for a few dollars each month you can slip into a world with people you love--people who won't hurt you, or disappoint you. People you've seen at their darkest moments, their most vulnerable moments. You know their secrets, their tragic pasts, and you love them.
BUT we also embrace this culture because we find that we ourselves do not have to be vulnerable. We do not have to share our embarrassing moments, our secrets. We can spend a few moments with people who understand, find comfort and solace in the fact that even though they don't know you personally, they understand, they sympathize, they've felt the same hurt. They know, because you've watched them fight the same battles you're facing over and over again.
And yet, as comforting as this world is, we let the emotional side of us fall too deeply into it. We become so attached to these make-believe worlds and people we've never spoken to, that we grow cold to real life, to real people, to each other. We are so starved for some real vulnerability in real life relationships that we forget to be real and vulnerable ourselves. So much so that the only places we can find the solace and the vulnerability we need is in make-believe worlds that never really existed except in our mind.
I've been guilty of slipping off into worlds when the weight of life is just too heavy to bear. I've gone to people who've never hurt me or disappointed me, I've gone to them because they were safe. They're trapped in a world they can never get out of--in short they can't ever disappoint me because they are not real. They are safe, but they are not real. They are an illusion of reality, yes, but we fall so deeply into this illusion we forget to be real and vulnerable, that people--out here, in our world--need us to be real and vulnerable.
If there's one thing I've learned in life it's that people need people. Human interaction is crucial to living.
What Writers Really Need
I never believed this before. I'm an introvert. My best days were imagining myself in a small, cozy, comfy apartment in some picturesque city. I'd imagine myself sitting in front of a window in jammies, with a cup of tea, reading a book, and watching the street life go by beneath me. But the more time I have for writing and being alone and by myself, the more I see myself withdrawing from the world, from humans and their drama. Some might say this isn't a bad thing, sometimes it isn't.
But I grew very unhappy, and it didn't make sense. I was pulling away from the world into other worlds where I wanted to be - I should have been happy. But those worlds could never give me what I really needed: Human interaction, confirmation, love, empathy, and vulnerability
We are created to need such things! So--we NEED them.
The key to living your dreams is not disconnecting from the people in your life--it is connecting, drawing closer, and, you're gonna hate me, being vulnerable, sharing our scars and our secrets, our failings, showing our tears, sharing the deep hurts of our hearts.
And I'm not talking about FB rants and attention seeking. FB rants are not personal. There is no real connecting with anybody through FB posts.
I'm talking about connecting with people on the lowest level there is. One person at a time.
And connecting is not just you spilling your heart to someone who will listen--it's you giving others 100% of your time and attention. It's you empathizing with them as well. Being real in their lives.
How Movies & Television Can Help Writers
So are stories bad then? Is falling in love with story worlds and story people wrong? No. No. No. No. Love them, cherish them. Be with them, root for them.
Do not leave what you have learned about empathy and love and vulnerability from stores there--in the story worlds. You must take what you have leaned and you must use it. You must share it.
Stories, books, movies--they not only give us entertainment and escapism, they are our examples. They teach us about important things. They teach us how to be real. Take what you see about real and go live, being real.
You cannot leave the empathy you feel about these people and places and things there, you must take this empathy and love and you must put it into your books.
Action is Not Empathy
It's easy to become addicted to the adrenaline rush of action. But I think non-stop action fries our brains because we let ourselves become bored when there isn't enough action.
Treat television and movies like they are gold mines for story ideas, character arcs and plots. Dig for what makes you empathize with these characters, and take notes. Every little detail is a diamond. Don't get hung up on action. In the end, it's just action and it means nothing.
Go for empathy and real human connection. There, in any story, you can't go wrong.
Let's chat! What do you think is the most important thing a writer needs to be able to tell a story well?