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NewlyNested: Can MAD MEN Give You Writer’s Block?


a blogumn by Debra Goykhman

I began my week’s blog with the intent of writing about gardening. But then even with a clear idea in my head I sat in front of a computer screen unable to write more than three sentences  on the subject.  I couldn’t figure out why.  I still want to write about gardening, it is still very much on my mind, but instead my mind went to a blank.  Then I realized my writer’s block stemmed from television and specifically Mad Men. You might think this is a big jump, but let me explain.

Last time I wrote about how I cut cable out of my life.  My television watching has gone down, but I still watch television on the internet.  Right now I am finally watching Mad Men and I am currently on season three.  When I first started with season one I found myself inspired to do more writing (I usually get inspired by anything entertaining that I like) then by season two my passion began to ware into a daily habit, until today when I noticed that my Mad Men viewing was making my mind blank.

I am now convinced that the show is a drug.  It is truly fascinating and addictive.  I almost like it as much as The Wire (even though The Wire has way more depth to it).  Still, Mad Men has a different hold on me.  I find myself fascinated by all the non-redeeming aspects of the characters and I am most intrigued when nothing is being said.  At least half of the show’s running time must be filled with the characters smoking or drinking in silence and in those moments I think “wow, look at how complex their thoughts must be.”  That moment is the drug.  I find myself thinking I can replicate the same thoughts by staring and thinking, but the problem is that I just find myself thinking about thinking.  Then my thinking leads me to understand that I have not given up my television vice.

However, I am not ready to quit Mad Men.  I must admit that getting rid of cable has not made me into a more productive writer.  I am the one who has allowed myself to be distracted by too many things.  I know I want to write, so now I need a cure for the blank mind Mad Men has given me.  I don’t really believe in writer’s block, but now I need a cure for it, or, at least some ideas on how to get the mind flowing.  Help?