In September 1964, a new show arrived on ABC television. “Bewitched” followed the misadventures of a female witch married to a mortal man. A half-hour comedy that put a variety of interesting spins on normal family and business life with a witch involved.
What piqued my interest in this show concerning writing is one specific visual trick that they often used on the show. Samantha twitching of her nose, and making miraculous things happen. House cleaned, animals and people appear or vanish, and that's just the small stuff the writers had her doing. While the effects worked perfectly in the overall story of the characters and their made-up world, in the long term, this introduced the audience to a concept of “Instant Gratification.” All they had to do was want something, and it would appear out of nowhere.
While anyone in their right minds knows we can’t just twitch our nose and get our work done, or clean our house, or any of the other things they did on the show. There is a broader concept or idea if you will. The idea that a vast majority of the things one wants or needs can almost magically appear.
A key example of this is Amazon. As anyone who has their Prime service knows barring weekends, and holidays or the like that if they order something on Monday morning, chances are very good the UPS truck will be at their door by Wednesday afternoon. This, in fact, a form of “Nose Twitching” One wants it, a couple of mouse clicks and the package on its way. Not much more energy expended than twitching one’s “Nose.”
Another great example of the “Bewitched Syndrome” is Pandora, or any online music or movie service. One wants to listen to some classic Sinatra, a couple of clicks on their mobile device of choice and it plays. One wants to watch a movie or series, a couple of clicks on the remote, and it’s playing on their preferred screen.
There was a day not that long ago when if one wanted to listen to Sinatra croon one had to do “The Work.”
Go to the record store, find and buy a Sinatra record, go home, remove the record from its jacket, place the vinyl record gently on the turntable to keep from scratching it and turn on the record player. The record spun, and mechanically, the arm with the needle moved over to the record and dropped, and the sounds of music came from the speakers. But wait, you weren’t done.
Once that side was over, in about 10 -15 minutes, you had to remove yourself from your favorite listening place and return to the turntable and turn the record over and repeat the process. These are but two of the many examples of the way people have unconsciously bought into the “Bewitched Syndrome.”
Years ago there was only ONE phone in a house. It usually hung on the kitchen wall, with a LONG cord to the receiver. If one wanted to call someone, they had to know the actual phone number, in years gone by, they didn't have 7 digit numbers like we do today, you had an exchange, such as the famous BR-549 from Hee Haw Fame. You called the operated and told her who you needed to call, and she’d connect you manually to her switchboard. See. More work.
And if you missed a call, You were out of luck, and probably never know it, unless they told you later they tried to call. Today? Instant access, the “Bewitched Syndrome.”
There are so many examples of “The Bewitched Syndrome” and how it is incredibly easy today to “Twitch” our way through life. To have a wide variety of things done or gotten for us almost magically.
But there are a lot of things there is NO shortcut for. Writing is one of them.
To create, one must sit down and actually do the work. Write the words, build the paragraphs and the chapters, and eventually one word at a time, build a book.
And you can be proud of it. Because you didn't make it appear out of thin air, you did the work, put in the time, and energy it takes to create.
Bewitched has inspired a generation to create new worlds and tell new tales in different ways. The Bewitched writers did the work to create a television program. Now you must do the work to make your stories come alive, as actress Elizabeth Montgomery did the work to make Samatha come alive on the screen.
Yes, I’ve wished many times over the years I could twitch my nose and have my stuff done.
But alas, I’m mortal like the rest of us.
And I have to do is“The Work.”