How to Spark Writing Ideas While Watching Television

You want to believe it, don’t you?

Or maybe you don’t. Perhaps you think that good ideas can only come through hard work. Nope. That is how the article, book, or story comes to life. Ideas come from everywWriting: Shorts and Statshere. You probably have a notepad by your bed, and carry one when you go somewhere. Why not include having one while watching television?


At one time, you had to watch the news at 6:00 pm or miss the news. Not anymore. Now, there is the 5:00 pm broadcast followed by the 6:00 pm news and then World News at 7:00 (you get the point). News media outlets have to report on about 10 times the amount of stories than in the past. This is great news for you (pun intended). One thing they rarely do is cover it in detail, but it can give you a starting point. Don’t listen for the top stories only; listen to health reports, product recalls, local news, scientific breakthroughs, odd items, and human interest pieces. Two unrelated stories may get you thinking. What if that fleeing fugitive developed a product that was recalled because of health problems? He’d sunk everything he had into the original model. Now he’s committing petty theft to try to raise enough money to develop a new prototype.

Situation Comedies

These programs show us people interacting at their best and worst. Think about the show afterwards. Consider how you could twist the circumstances to create a different story. You can also let them remind you of experiences you’ve had. Look at the places, characters, and styles of dress. There are times I’ve watched a show and thought, “It would never have happened like that.” Write it the way you think it would.

Extreme Challenge Shows

The Biggest Loser, The Bachelor, and The Apprentice are just a few of the hundreds of challenge shows to come along in recent years. While I don’t usually watch this type of format for long, these shows are fast paced, emotional, and are often set in odd locations that might get some creative juices flowing.Writing - Telivision remote

Quiz and Puzzle Shows

If you turn on Jeopardy or Wheel of Fortune, you may also turn on inspiration. Some studies even suggest that puzzles, games, and other stimulating activitiescan help older people keep sharp minds. Think about it. A story develops in much the same way you solve a puzzle. First you have a few pieces, and then you develop it a little more. You begin to see the bigger picture, and before long you’re finished.

How-to Shows

Doing something with your hands is a proven way to get your mind moving creatively. However, watching an instructional program about felting wool, fixing a leaky faucet, or restoring furniture can also work. Watching this type of programming allows you to take in new information, understand how stuff works, or see how you can re-purpose something you were going to trash (like your writing).

This is yet another way that you can find ideas almost anywhere and keep writing in all kinds of weather. So don’t feel guilty if you need to take a writing break, but don’t forget the notepad by your side. I might be watching the news soon and hear about how you came up with newest extreme comedy game show.

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15 comments on “How to Spark Writing Ideas While Watching Television
  1. Great post! very true On semi related note, one afternoon I just randomly wrote down a number of the titls of DVD box sets I have in my collection, then wrot a poem on each in turn…not many bore any resemblance at all the the shows the title came from, but it was a great way of freeing the mind and writing about topics I don’t usually write about!! So yay for television!! 🙂

  2. Easter Ellen says:

    Great ideas for inspiration. I often find things to write about as I drive and my mind wanders. Thank God for voice notes on the iPhone! It has saved many an idea for me

  3. Never know when inspiration will hit! Great post.

  4. Erica says:

    And sometimes, no matter what you’re watching, you’ll hear a phrase or a word that sparks an idea that in turn, snowballs into a pretty awesome piece. You don’t always need the premise or analyze anything – just listen for that next great phrase.

    Awesome post, Peter!

  5. Cate Macabe says:

    I agree, writing ideas are everwhere. But I think it takes a practiced awareness to keep watch for them. Having that notebook handy and within sight would be a good reminder. Thanks for the great post.

  6. Hahahahaa … There is ACTUALLY some good in watching TV!! Great post ~

  7. Great post! I had this experience just a few days ago – not from tv – but from two news reports online. Ideas can come from just about anywhere as long as we keep our eyes, ears, and minds open.

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"A writer looks at a screen or piece of paper like a canvas. They see a country unexplored, a picture unpainted, a tale not told. They dare to venture into the barren land, explore its dark corners, and paint its pictures. Then they unveil the epic with the goal of compelling people to visit their newly discovered territory.”
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