Confessions from a Serial Binger – 4 Reasons Writers Need to Binge

Confessions from a serial binger.jpegI never do anything by halves. I’m known for burning the candle at both ends and in the middle.

Well, reading, watching TV and my interests are the same way. I wish more than anything reading wasn’t included in that and that I read a little, consistently, everyday but I don’t have time and thats why my TBR pile is over 200 high. So what do I do?

I binge.

I sit for hours and zone out, ogling whatever the latest TV series is and indulge in episode after episode until I am so saturated with the programme or book series that I actually have to readjust when I put it down! When I’ve talked about this kind of behaviour before, there’s seemed to be a bit of stigmatism around the act of binge indulgence. I get it. It’s not productive in terms of life admin and chores, and it does brew a bit of laziness, but you know what? When I thought about it I realised that actually, it’s a kind of helpful thing to do as a writer.

1. Bingespiration

There’s never been an occasion when I have fallen into a binging spree that I haven’t been inspired. When I binge, it’s usually because I have fallen in love with a series, or a book or a character. For example, I binge read a guilty pleasure – Charlaine Harris’s True Blood novels, I read the first one (Dead Until Dark: A True Blood Novel (Book 1)) in like, a day! And then I powered through the following 12 books over the next 8 weeks. I read four on our week long holiday! My wife didn’t see me for two months whilst I selfishly indulged in the books and fell into their world. I have just done the same with Once Upon A Time a TV show, I am now impatiently waiting week on week for Netflix to release the next episode.

What’s my point? My point is, going on a binge beats writers block. It allows you to forget your woes, your own obsessions with your book babies and allows you to slip into other fantasy worlds. It’s escapism. It’s what we write for, we want to do this to other people, so why not experience it for ourselves. And what better way to inspire you back into writing than to enjoy getting lost in your fave show/book/series.

2. Bingination

There’s nothing like a bingefest to get your imagination going. I have this thing… when I finish a series I have binged on, I feel, bereft. Literally. As I close the final page, I sort of wake up, open my eyes and all of a sudden I am back to reality. With the god awful realisation that I don’t in fact live in Bon Temps, Louisiana, nor am I a vampire, and I am neither Sookie Steakhouse nor her friend in real life. It hurts. Like bad. Because for a minute there, we were braiding each others hair, and biro-tatting BFF on each others arms.

Seriously. Is it just me? Or does anyone else get so sucked in on a binge that real life disappears? My point is, we can learn from this. From the fireworks it gives our imagination and the depths we can be sucked into. We writers need to deconstruct and analyse what happens to us as we fall into a binge, and then replicate, replicate, replicate.

If I think about the True Blood series, it was the world she created. I hadn’t read a vampire story in which the world at large new they existed. I thought it was unique, and it instantly drew me in. I also loved the love story that ran through it. Right up till she ruined it at the end of the last book!

3. Bingentration

Are my binge words just getting weird now? Well binges force one to concentrate, hard, and for long periods of time.

So no excuse for not concentrating next time you need to get a post out, or smashing 1667 words every day of NaNo November. If you can binge watch/read you can binge write.

4. Bingearching

This for me is the out right winner. If you can binge watch and concentrate then surely you can binge on research too? I talked about the importance of getting out and doing actual research recently in my post 5 Reasons Writers Should Be Secret Agents.

But now I’m transferring the skills I have for binge indulgences, into research. By submersing myself into book topics, times, locations and clothing etc so that I know everything there is to know on the topic. It ensures my books credibility whilst doing it quickly (given it’s a binge) resulting in an all round winner for effectiveness and efficiency.

And there’s nothing I like more than something that’s both effective AND efficient!

What do you think? Do you ever binge on anything? Do you find it useful or a distraction?

61 comments

  1. I binge all the time and it’s mostly with a few TV shows. But I agree with you. I definitely think it gets you in that creative mood and helps you start writing.

  2. I usually binge something from the DVD collection between projects. Recently it was Orphan Black and before that was Merlin. It’s like downtime from writing, but I’m still keeping myself partially away from reality. If that makes any sense. Great point on binge watching beating writers block.

  3. My weekend evenings are devoted to pre-recorded TV bingefests from Strictly Come Dancing & Doc Martin to Sci-Fantasy like Haven & movies (like the Jason Mamoa ‘Conan’ recently Mmm-mhmmmm!) and every week night on All the Buffys on Sy-Fy…
    Can’t wait for the next series of Game of Thrones – I love seeing all the PoVs being given another perspective from the books and I love getting to series I’ve missed out on first time around, like Being Human!
    Binging is various ways is much too important to a writer to feel guilty about, but then I’m more than capable of justifying my chocolate binge habit while watching/reading all the above as good quality dark stuff is GOOD for you! 😉

  4. Yes. Your binge words are got weird. But all is forgiven for the fab post, you know? Also, true. “When I binge, it’s usually because I have fallen in love with a series, or a book or a character.” Oh, yes.

    Not sure about #3 but, since I’m all about the others, perhaps I’ll try it. 🙂 Thanks.

    1. lol they did get a bit weird didn’t they! I couldn’t help it, they just spilled into the page! Glad you agree! I mean I don’t just arbitrarily binge! it has to be for a reason! :p

  5. You are so right! I’ve always been inspired or fire up the ol’ imagination or concentration with a good book/series binge! My favorite binges? Robert Jordan or G.R.R. Martin books; HBO series, Deadwood; Finding Your Roots or Who Do You Think You Are UK; and the series Fringe (which I think you’d like and it fits your genre of research). Research can be a binge, too. I also binge on games — Scrabble and Settlers of Catan. Depending upon the binge, I like to pair it with wine. 😀

    1. I’m going to investigate Robert Jordan not heard of him – or at least I think I haven’t.

      I LOVE Fringe, I totally binged it too! ALL of it! awesome recommendation!

      The wife would love that finding your roots programme she’s a fan of genealogy.

      haha – red or white? I’m a rose girl!

  6. You make good points. It’s nice to cut loose, relax, and let the subconscious work on our WIP for awhile. It’s nice to get saturated in a story too. Who knows what technique we may notice in the show or books we’re reading that can help us get through an obstacle in our own writing. And now I feel better about my secret binging guilty pleasure 🙂

  7. ‘Bingination’ is my favourite binge word!! Interesting take though. I pretty much binge watch/read/research/read/write too. I’d never really thought about it but yeah, it is a widespread behaviour. We’re harsh on ourselves when slacking in front of the TV but when it’s hours spent researching, we don’t give ourselves enough merit. I like that you put them side by side and you’re absolutely right.

    1. LOL. I actually have no idea where those words came from! It is widespread right? I know so many people who binge, and then talk about it like its a terrible sin. but… *shrugs* I just kind of think its ok, yay know?!

  8. Yes, I binge every so often on TV or books 🙂 And I read all the Sookie Stackhouse books like you too! (Except for the last one, as I heard what she did and couldn’t face it) And when I’m writing my own books, I find it’s all I can focus on, draw into that world.

    1. NO WAY?! haha that’s so funny! I bet we aren’t alone! I was like beyond livid, I was furious when I heard, I couldn’t even bear to read another page. LIKE HOW COULD SHE DO THAT? it was such a sodding betrayal. filthy ending to what was a bloody amazing series. outrageous… can you tell I’m annoyed? By the way – your vampire story on Ali’s challenge – proper stunning.

      1. Oh yeah, have you read the review comments on Amazon? Everyone feels so betrayed! So that’s why I never read it, I just couldn’t believe it, after all he had done for her. But I love the other books, I may have to go back and reread when I get home 🙂 And thanks for the nice comments about my story – to be honest, when I thought ‘monster’ I thought of humans, and the story just grew from there. But now I think there might be more to it…

        1. No I haven’t but guess where I’m going once I reply?! YES exactly how could she. He had done EVERYTHING for her although she never wanted to be a vampire I always assumed she would be because DUH it was w vampire story and what the actual fuck?! It was worse than Veronica Roths betrayal in divergent. Clearly it’s a theme.

          I agree by the way… I think there’s a novel in the story… I would love to read it too ?

          1. yes, I figured she’d be a vampire, or that he would just stay with her because he loved her! Maybe I’ll read the final book, but my stomach hurts just thinking about it. As writers we write for ourselves, but I cannot believe she thought that was how the story would end.

  9. I love all forms of the word binge! Sometimes a good binge is what we need to separate ourselves from, well, ourselves, lol. Although it sounds as though you do it much better than I, because I can never seem to get the full satisfaction out of it, because I’m feeling guilty I’m not writing or blogging. Hmm. 🙂

    1. ha! great point – I hadnt thought about it like it was removing oneself from… oneself! but thats a good point. Escapism in its purest form. I think I get away with it guilt free because I badge it as research! :p totally cheating!

      1. I lied. I am a man of complete excess. At least these days I have food in some sort of control and have stopped drinking completely. If only I could control my recreational drug use then I’d be fine!

  10. Yep! Hold my hand up! Guilty on all counts. Although it is much harder to do with 3 kids around that need feeding etc! But my biggest these days is bingearching… I can get lost for hours here!

  11. I totally love this, being a fellow binger!!! The reason I do it, though, is that it’s total relaxation/escapism after a day’s writing, blogging and emailing, but for more writing-type reasons, I have to say it does also teach me a lot about story structure.

    Trouble is, I sit up until 2.30 watching … was ‘Hannibal’ last night. Just one more… ! xx

    1. Hi Terry, glad you’re a fellow binger! I agree it really is total relaxation. HA!! I do that too ( the staying up late bit) terrible – once I’m hooked thats it – have to watch to the end!

  12. I make an effort not to binge, as I know myself and it wouldn’t be a good idea. I do, however, like the thought that bingeing on other people’s creations can help us to create.

  13. I so agree with your points here. I sometimes wondered myself why I could binge-watch a series and not focus that time on a book or on my writing.

    But at least I have the perfect excuse for binge watching True Blood or Once Upon a Time: I have cats 🙂 They always curl up on my lap while I watch TV, so that when an episode ends I simply cannot reach the remote or am not allowed to move in time before the next episode starts. So then I’ll just watch one more…

  14. Wow, I relate to this a lot! I’m a binger too, in t.v. , writing, food (lifelong effort to stamp that one down!), I never thought of how it might enhance creativity, good point! Great piece, thanks!

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