For writers who can’t turn off the TV: How to use Netflix to escape writer’s block and help you write more regularly


This year, my aspiring playwright friend Ghost and I decided to report to each other on our daily wordcount. Yesterday, she sent me this text:

I wrote for half an hour with no distractions besides sipping a glass of water right next to me.

It about killed me. I don’t know how you turn out those voluminous tomes.*

Now, I learned a lot of my productivity tricks  reading Julia Cameron’s Right to Write, including listening and taking down a story (versus “making up” things). And this year, thanks to Dean Wesley Smith,  I’m monitoring my consistency using an Excel spreadsheet.

But if ANY of you think I am some kind of monk-like writing machine, scribbling down stories in spartan room devoid of windows or cheer, let me state that I firmly believe that distraction can be a legitimate part of writing. Who hasn’t gotten one project done while putting off finishing another?

How I use TV to Escape Writer’s Block

Don’t get me wrong–there’s  definitely times where silence and focus are needed (in both drawing and writing). But I do a lot of drawing while a show’s on, and yes, I’m even “guilty” of writing while watching TV. (I rarely do that, though, because when I write, it feels like I’m tuning in to a movie-in-progress, and if I’ve got dialogue running on a TV, I can’t hear what my  characters are saying!)

But when I DO write while watching TV, it means writer’s block has shown up.

Now, writer’s block is just a code word for FEAR. Usually (in my case) as the thought pattern: “no way can I pull off writing this scene, I am not a good enough writer, I will never be skilled enough to make this scene sing.” At this point, I’ve usually put off writing the scene for a week. At least.

So when that fear shows up, I set the TV on to a plotted show. That way, while the critical (and frequently overwhelmed) part of my brain is distracted by the story onscreen, the other half my brain–the judgment-free, finger painting, for-the-heck-of-it, “why not?” side–gets assigned the task of writing the story I’m stuck on.

But since we’re watching a show, nobody takes it very seriously, which is good, because if you’re just goofing off, that means your Inner Critic can go to sleep, which is usually what you need to break through a block.

In my book, it’s a legitimate tactic.

Everyday Writing

Now, for everyday writing, sometimes I need something in between silence and dialogue-filled TV.

That’s where Netflix streaming comes in.

One chilly day, on a whim, I searched for and found a fireplace video to watch while writing:


Actually, the one I found was called “Fireplace 4K: Classic Crackling Fireplace”

Afterwards, Netflix began recommending me similar titles, which I now like to watch during my daily writing time. They provide a little noise or music when my nose is to the page, and something pretty to look at when I look up. Here are my favorites, as of 1/28/2017:

f26659b9f8c44f445faca1bec5f7fa3957c7356bJellies. One hour of psychedelic jellyfish boppin across the screen to electronic lounge music. I find myself tuning into this one A LOT.


Search Netflix streaming for “Moving Art” to find all 6 films!

Louie Schwartzberg’s MOVING ART series. Variety is the spice of life, so I like that there’s more than one of these. The collection includes Forests (with timelapse mushroom growth, eew/cool!), Underwater, Deserts (my current favorite), Flowers, Waterfalls (the first one I discovered), and Oceans (beautiful coastlines). These are all shorter films–about 25 minutes each–but every time you look up, you go WOW. Gorgeous production values. Bonus for having soothing and non-distracting piano music.

cc87c5a26140a35b31276008f37648ec89ce3a7eNatureVision. This one has more animals–and a ton of episodes, each differently themed–but I’ve only watched the first episode, and it was just (shrug) aight. Probably the music could’ve been better.

aquarium-for-your-home-saltwater-reef_70298699a7210ccb19678aabb0a170847476683cb7ee751dAquarium for your Home: Saltwater Reef and Aquarium for your Home: Goldfish. For those of you who can’t stand music, these companions to the Fireplace 4K aren’t too bad. I think the Aquarium is superior to the Goldfish, but then, I like that underwater bubbly sound more.

So those are some of the vids I run on Netflix when I’m writing to keep my visual brain entertained while my writing brain gets to work.Need more advice on how to write more? Leave your questions and comments in the comments section below!

*The voluminous tomes she’s referring to is my sci-fi novel Steel City, Veiled Kingdom, which isn’t quite published yet. But stay tuned!

Lady Fiction

Indie Publishing Friends

One of my besties just published her first full-length novel. I’m so proud!!!


About the book:

This is a story about America.

Also about Lady Fiction, a robot of GRACE and POISE who solves CRIMES. Robots do not dream of destiny, and yet she dreams. She dreams of finding American Hero, of bringing her back to save an America on the ragged edge of being eaten up by God’s own chaos.

She dreams of a series of Pintos, left wrecked, mangled, and exploded across amber waves of grain and majestic purple mountains.

She dreams of befriending serial killers and quieting ghosts, and eating trash from a thousand dumpsters to fuel her stomach furnace. She dreams of waking gods and putting others down. She dreams of facing off the Devil and forcing her to change her crooked ways.

But all dreams lie. So does Lady Fiction.

Entropy wins. All you can do is steal a few moments from it.  

I  got to read the first part of it years ago.  I’ve been thinking about it ever since. If you’re looking for a DIFFERENT yet funny yet thoughtful-deep read, you should  grab it.

THE STONE SEEKERS – Cover Thumbnails and Final Art


Thumbnail explorations for THE STONE SEEKERS eBook cover. Got some great expressions out of that rabbit and rat! #Sargon #Amber


While trying to paint stupid rocks I got frustrated and tried a different tack:


Then I decided no, I had been on the right path the entire time and went back to the diamond composition. Glad I did! Here’s the final artwork, sans Emily New’s fabulous text:


And of course, the free short story is available right here on my site!

You’ve Disappointed Me, Internet


I was going to write you a post that went something like this:

What it feels like writing a new novel:

And below that text would be an endless looping animated gif of James Sunderland from Silent Hill 2 rowing his rowboat into a foggy nothingness (see Figure A).

But the internet has disappointed me yet again. There is no endless looping gif of James Sunderland rowing on Toluca Lake.

There are only screenshots, none of which convey the sensation of typing hundreds of words every day, writing scenes as they show up, not knowing where they’ll lead, because you have no plan.

You never have a plan.

All you have is dogged faith that some day, if you keep typing into the fog, the shoreline will appear, and you will wind up there, and you will be finished.


Figure A