Eighth in the 1K a Day Motivational Series, in which I talk about something that happened in the previous week that could have or did prevent me from writing a minimum of 1,000 words on a given day, or possibly talk about something that provided support to get me through the day.
Last week I talked about needing that inspiration sometimes. Previously I have talked about games and their capacity to suck away your free time. So this time, I want to talk about the water cooler mechanism, which is not nearly as awesome as the antikythera mechanism.
So the water cooler mechanism is the tendency for must-watch television to be pushed to such an extent that it reaches a kind of critical mass with you and your peers. The pressure is that if you don’t watch it the night it airs, you will be left in the dust as your friends and coworkers discuss the episode. It’s a very cliquish thing and it totally happens all the time, sometimes without even expecting it.
But we live in a very different television society from 20 years ago, roughly when the term was gaining traction among the viewing populace. You can watch television on your commute, right before you go to bed, five minutes here and there on breaks and lunches. The water cooler mechanism is no longer just “the next day around the water cooler” but DURING the episode (live-tweeting), immediately following the episode (social media, review sites, texting, etc.), all through the evening, the following morning. The pressure to have watched a show has increased exponentially because the moment the episode has aired, you’re miles behind the hype and the discussion surrounding it if you haven’t watched it yet.
What does this have to do with writing 1,000 words a day, every day? Only everything.
No longer are we subjected to 22+ episode seasons throughout the year, with only new shows at exact times during the year. Cable and Premium television have thrown that convention to the wind. You are now required to constantly be on top of TV shows all throughout the year. When one show is ending its season, another is beginning. The spring and summer shows are among the best television has to offer (AMC, HBO). There’s ALWAYS a show you should be watching, that everyone you know is watching.
This past weekend, House of Cards Season 3 hit Netflix. I VERY much wanted to just dive right in to the entire season and do nothing else until I had devoured every last diabolically delicious minute of it. I wanted to do it so I could talk to people about it on the cutting edge of the discussion. I didn’t want to be left behind.
But I let myself fall behind. I had work to do, and I did a lot of it over the weekend. I had to convince myself that the water cooler discussion (wherever and whenever it happened) wasn’t going to miss me, and I shouldn’t worry about not being there for it.
For television, more than any other medium, this water cooler mechanism is in play. The social pressure to catch up and stay caught up is enormous, but guess what? The shows will still be there after you get your writing done. People will still want to talk about it two days later, especially if you’re bringing something unique to the discussion.
So throw away that stupid little paper cup and get to work.
And always remember to write the hell on, writers.