What I Watch When I’m Not Writing.

The answer: very little, in fact. Way back in April, at the very beginning of all things pandemic and everyone else was binging their entire Netflix list, I conducted a month long experiment and unplugged my television. For science. Five months later it’s still unplugged, and I haven’t seen a single political ad this whole year. The result: a much happier existence. I really do suggest you give it a try.

However, every once in a while I crave some mindless entertainment. While I’ve read down my TBR book pile and bought even more than I can handle in a year, I needed to add back in a healthy mix of other kinds of media. As such, here’s what I watch when I’m not writing. Or trying to write. Or practicing deep procrastination from writing!

YouTube

For a long while I unsubscribed from all the channels I was watching the past two years. Some of them no longer posted content, and others no longer piqued my interest. Last night I whittled down the my current list from over fifteen to six. Here they are.

Kittisaurus

Kittisaurus and her ten (yes, ten) cats brings me so much joy. A YouTuber out of South Korea, Claire, Lulu, Momo, TT, DD, LaLa, CoCo, ChuChu, Nana, Toto and DoDo will most certainly brighten up your day. However, Claire recently got back ownership of her original channel, CreamHeroes. While I’m really happy she was able to accomplish that, I’m still nervous to resub. (If you know anything about YouTube politics, you get what I mean). So here’s a couple videos from her Kittisaurus channel for you to enjoy.

Don’t worry if you don’t speak Korean! She’s got such a large, international fan base that she’s been working on her English skills.

Royalty Soaps

I love Katie’s soaps. Having watched her channel grow over the past several years, it’s now incredibly difficult placing orders on her soap release days. But that’s a fantastic problem to have – for Katie! She’s a small business based out of Texas and basically her whole family’s involved in the process. (Process. Cold processed soap. See what I did there? hehe). While I prefer low-top soaps over the ones with high piles of “soap frosting,” I bought a high top grapefruit soap earlier this year and was sad when it was gone. If you prefer using bars of soap over liquid, consider supporting Katie’s Royalty Soaps. If you can’t seem to get your hands on her bars, look into Ophelia’s Soapery.

Binging With Babish

I found this channel a month ago. I don’t even know why I started watching it. All I know is I’ll never make a good 95% of the recipes he recreates from television shows and film. Of the five percent left, I *may* actually attempt an alcohol free version of the cheese fondue video below. I bought one of those electric fondue pots last year, and I own several old school fondue cookbooks from the 1970s. Oooh – I may just have to for my birthday coming up next month!

Kimono Mom

Kimono Mom’s the most recent channel I’ve subscribed to within the last few weeks. Moe cooks Japanese cuisine with her adorable daughter, Sutan. I’ve always wanted to try making more types of food, and I love this channel’s simplicity. In fact, I’m going to try making tonkatsu later this week. The closest Asian market that I know of here in Pittsburgh is about twenty minutes away on a good driving day. I don’t know if they’re currently open for business, but I’m going to try looking for ingredients to make dashi, and that coveted Japanese mayo!

Tonkatsu reminds me of the German dish schnitzle, which is also a breaded cutlet.

Jessica Braun

I’ve watched Jessica Braun for years. And I do mean years. From the floor of her bedroom to her wedding to the birth of her adorable Gigi, it’s been a privilege to watch her little family grow. If you like all things Disney, her husband’s a travel agent and they often vlog their trips (when there’s not a pandemic going on, of course). If you like a more down-to-earth YouTube channel experience, give Jessica Braun’s channel a try.

Alexandria Ryan

Alex’s channel is one of those channels I unsub from only to come back a month later. I don’t know why I just don’t let the link sit in my subs list. To quote Alex, “Anywho…” This channel’s specialty lies in subscription box unboxings. If you ever think about getting one, she may have a review of it already. Boxes aren’t as big as they once were, but I could be wrong. The only box I purchase is FabFitFun. That’s mostly because of their options and quality, add-on specials, and ease of cancellation.

Netflix

I have a rule of thumb with Netflix – never have more than five shows in your Watch Later list. Right before I unplugged my TV, I pushed my way through a list twenty titles deep. By the end, instead of entertained, I was disappointed in myself for some of the choices I make in life. Okay, let’s not get philosophical here. Here’s what’s currently on my Watch Later list:

Star Trek

Some people binge watch FRIENDS. Others The Office, and still others Seinfeld. Then there’s the generation that adores shows like Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, and the newest version of Sabrina. Whatever your favorite genre may be, mine will always, always be Star Trek.

This month’s series is Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. I’ve yet to dip my toes into Discovery or Picard, as its the classics I love. One of these days I really should see what all the talk’s about.

It takes me about a month to get through a Star Trek series, and I can’t watch them out of order. The only one I also can’t get into is The Original Series. I do, of course, understand its significance and place in pop culture history.

If you doubt my love for Trek, just read these blog posts of mine:

The Character Arcs in Star Trek Voyager
The Dream That Star Trek Gave Me
Five Disease Filled Star Trek Voyager Episodes
Five Favorite Childhood Books

Black

Another Netflix habit I have is rewatching old Korean dramas I absolutely adore. I normally don’t go for dramas with older cast members, as I prefer more light-hearted series. But Black’s dark nature rekindled my love for its genre (think Japan’s Ghost Hunt anime, Supernatural, and S. Korea’s Bring It On, Ghost [oml Taecyeon’s my weakness).

Last month I watched Oh My Ghost again. I really want to rewatch the Taiwanese and Japanese versions once more, but that’s a lot of TV. For now, I’ll stick with the Korean mystical thriller, Black.

Cast:
1. Song Seung-heon
2. Go Ara
3. El Lee
4. Jo Jae-yoon
5. Kim Dong-jun
6. Kim Won-hae
7. Choi Myung-bin
8. Lee Hyo-Je
9. Kim Hyeong-min
10. Kim Jae-young

Cursed

Cursed is one of those shows with such mixed reviews I hesitate to watch.

I’ve also been so busy as of late that I really need to set aside time to sit down and pay attention to something brand new. I think that’s why I enjoy having old shows on in the background, so I can still work without having to stop and watch.

Yes, this includes Korean dramas like Black.

I’m drawn to anything with swords. Think Lord of the Rings, Legend of the Seeker and that one episode of Firefly where Mal is challenged to a duel. Okay, looks like I’m giving Cursed a chance.

NiNoKuni

Every so often I’ll hop on the anime train. I can only handle it in small chunks. As a kid I loved Sailor Moon and watched Inuyasha during Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim programming. I also absolutely love Sword Art Online, Clannad, Mary and the Witch’s Flower and A Silent Voice.

This past week I finished A Whisker Away, Ouran High School Host Club (again), and Toradora. That’s a lot of television for someone who’s unplugged her actual tv!

NiNoKuni‘s a film along the same line as A.I.C.O. Incarnate, another post-apocalyptic Netflix original. The similar concept drew me to add it to my list, and I can’t wait to dive in.

I do appreciate how one kid in the poster kinda reminds me of Haku from Spirited Away:


So how’s that for an impromptu blog post? I suppose the other reason I wanted to share these titles is to remind you that you don’t always need to be writing. It’s perfectly okay, normal, natural to take a break. In fact, breaks are necessary for your mental health. Don’t be afraid to indulge in a favorite YouTube video or Netflix flick. They’re a great stress reliever and frees up those neurons so they can plan out your next great scene. Give yourself a break and do something freeing today.


I Unplugged the Television For A Month. Here’s What Happened.

We humans make choices every day. Sometimes collectively, but mostly individually. We are creatures of habit and prefer sticking to our routines like flies on poo. Unless something dramatic happens and our simple pleasures suddenly disappear, we’ll follow that path indefinitely. I’m one of those creatures with a terrible case of procrastination.

Procrastination has truly had a profound impact on my writing (or lack thereof). Since this self-revelation, the one that showed me I proudly I wore that procrastination on my sleeve over the past few months, I’ve also come to realize how disappointed I am in myself. I’m writing, but blogging and working on other things. None of that work’s been directly connected to my manuscript.

Change. It’s such a short yet daunting word. One that us creatures of habit try to avoid as much as possible. I’ve worked retail and food service for fifteen years, so you’d think I’d have an easier time with it as change is so constant.

Then March 2020 came in the United States. A time when life changed life for us all. With everyone else indulging in Netflix, Disney+, and more social media than ever before, I wondered if it was time to finally conduct a no-television experiment. Let’s see what happened:

WEEK 1. April 1-11

You may wonder why this week is extra long. Honestly? Because I completely forgot about this experiment. But an organic change already happened during Week One, plus a few weeks before that, and I wouldn’t have noticed unless I hadn’t opened my Kindle. Apparently, less TV time equates to more book time. Imagine that!

It took a damp, drizzly March evening to get me to crack open a book for the first time in a while (one that wasn’t non-fiction), and my mouth dropped when I read its insights page. Of course it’s clear to you that I’ve never explored this function, and set a low reading goal for myself – to read twenty books in a year. 500 books in a year sounded like an absurd goal to start with. Better to set expectations low and work up!


WEEK 2. April 12-18

I used to have a huge “to be watched” list on my Netflix account. Now it’s down to two items – Merlin and a Korean drama called Mr. Sunshine. The only shows I have on repeat are old Star Trek series I can’t help but watch over and over again. It’s a simple thing, but they bring me joy.

I also used to religiously watch The Price is Right in the mornings, but even that annoys me now. Too many Type A personalities. So my TV remains turned off, and I’m slowly whittling down my “to be watched” on Netflix. But honestly? I’ve no desire to. Why? My focus has shifted completely back to books, writing, and learning more than ever before.


I’m also incredibly happy to report that I’ve updated the “On My Bookshelf” page here on my website, something I actually have to do yet again. Yay!

WEEK 3. April 19-25

Week three. Not only am I watching less television, even with the family, I’m watching less YouTube as well. Beauty community drama videos, kpop music videos, and old episodes of Judge Judy were constantly in my “Watch Later” list. Now it’s filled with more practical videos like organizing and new recipes to try.

Update 1: I’ve removed my subscription from several more channels. I’ve even removed many more shows from my Watch List on Netflix; I no longer have the desire to even start new ones.

Update 2: I’m also incredibly happy to report that I’ve updated the “On My Bookshelf” page here on my website, something I actually have to do yet again. Yay!


WEEK 4. April 26-30

By this week, I didn’t want to even turn on Netflix except for a few episodes of Star Trek here and there. You’d think, because I began my two weeks off work due to statewide pandemic mandates, that my viewership would increase. I’m pleased to report that it, in fact, went down. The majority of my entertainment now comes from, surprise surprise, actual books again. And I think that was the desired outcome of this experiment to begin with.

Whenever I find myself craving entertainment, my TBR (to be read) pile called my name. The only time I even look at a television now is after family dinner nights and The Masked Singer is on.

This last week is also the week I’ve worked more on my own novel series than I have in the past two months. “I don’t have time,” I’d say. When, in reality, I let my “procrastination” get in the way of real productivity.


There’s more to life than always airing your grievances on social media. There’s more to life than always being connected, on top of pop culture, or indulging in drama videos about people on YouTube you truly know nothing about.

Truth be told, this “experiment” began in late March. They say time changes habits, be they good or bad, and this past month certainly proved that to be true. Conclusion: television and media and other media outlets do not, should not, control your life. For the longest time I let it control mine, and I’m done complaining about political ads.

We all have it within us to write our own narratives. We don’t always have to keep to the status quo, especially if our life’s status quo doesn’t make us happy anymore. And I wasn’t happy. I thank God every day for my desire to write stories.

It’s time to use, and I mean truly use, this gift He’s given me.

The Proof is in the Reading Timeline!


We all have it within us to write our own narratives.