Steering Creative Obsessions Using TV

I’m always on-and-off with projects, so I want to learn about steering creative obsessions in my life. It’s a huge struggle for me to stay focused on any project. I get obsessed with a project for a couple weeks, then it fades as other stuff takes over. Sometimes it can be as short as just a couple days, even. However, I have a brand-new hypothesis about TV shows that might change things.

As you might have seen from my last post, the anime Do It Yourself!! was pretty good, but annoyed me in one specific way. That specific way is also very influential to one of my story WIPs I’ve been working on for years, codenamed “Japan Romance Story.” It’s about an American teen who goes to school in Japan, and all the slice-of-life, romantic hijinks that play out as a result, and somewhat autobiographical as well.

Then, by choosing to watch a movie about LGBTQ+ culture in Japan, that sent my mind swirling with story connections. This show and movie together helped my brain make a bunch of connections and synthesize a whole lot of stuff that will undoubtedly help my project in the future.

Just by trying to study for my JLPT Japanese test, I accidentally sent my brain into a near-obsession on a totally different subject.

So, that’s the hypothesis. Maybe I can try steering creative obsessions on purpose!

I’ve done inspiration hunting before. Watching movies and reading comics and searching out articles to help me gather energy for projects. ATL and Gay Gatsby were the strongest for this for me. A horde of Christmas movies in 2022 also got me very briefly obsessed with a Christmas LitRPG idea that will never see the light of day. But the thing I’ve noticed is… nothing works better than TV shows.

Looking back, my watchthrough of over half of the original Dragon Ball did a great job steering creative obsession in Her Golemancer Girlfriend, weirdly enough. It got me invested in long-form development of side characters, which is a really big thing I wanted to nail in that series (and I’m not sure I succeeded at but that’s another story).

Steven Universe was very influential on ATL, too, but even more influential on Glory of Bowestte. In fact, if you look at the series I’ve watched, and look to anything I published 3-6 months later, you can probably see a bunch of influence seeping in (I wish Letterboxd had all TV shows so this was more comprehensive). Even when a show sucks, it tends to do a good job steering creative obsessions in my heart.

Can I harness this?

I want to try obsessing myself with a certain project on purpose. Using a TV show and its lovable cast of misfit characters to juice my passions and get me finally working on X project I haven’t been doing for a while. Video series and podcasts work some, and movies are good for influence, but as far as I can think back, only TV shows have directly influenced project obsessions.

So, looking at my TV watchlist (again, sadly TV shows are incomplete on Letterboxd), I have a lot of stuff already available to go through. (To see TV shows only, click that little Eye icon on the right side and filter “Show TV shows.”)

I want to test this hypothesis. Based on my idea, a cyberpunky-but-slice-of-life show like Patlabor would almost undoubtedly juice my obsession with ATL, but I very much don’t want to work on that right now. A show like Tatami Time Machine Blues would undoubtedly get me into weirder projects like Gay Gatsby. Your Lie In April would undoubtedly get me obsessed with my Japan Romance project again. It’s not just anime that I can watch, and longer series will probably work better, it’s just the short stuff’s what’s listed on Letterboxd lol.

I just have to decide which project I want to get obsessed with, and how long I want to be obsessed with it for, I guess. What should I test it out with?

I’ll definitely try this out after the JLPT, just as long as I can actually decide what to do (this is not as easy as it sounds–I am extremely indecisive). And it’ll be the first big use of my growing Obsidian-based note-taking system I’m still developing.

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2 thoughts on “Steering Creative Obsessions Using TV

  1. According to this theory, since you are sure your Christmas project may never see the light of day, you should NOT seek inspiration by watching an entire Christmas-themed TV series.

    Maybe if you watch a train-related series (that is not Thomas the Tank Engine), you’ll think more deeply about mysterious public transit-related projects…

    1. Fortunately there is most likely not a Christmas-themed TV series out there. It’d have to air all 13 episodes of its season within the Christmas season, then the residuals would be terrible for 10 months of the year. Actually, wait, that doesn’t sound so bad. I think you’re onto something.

      Watching and reading a lot about transit has given me huge notes for my transit-related nonfiction book that is growing exceedingly large. It will take several more years to actually be finished I am pretty sure. But trains are a dangerous thing

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