Two years ago, I came across filmmaker Steven Soderbergh’s list of everything he read or watched in 2016. As it turns out, he’s been tracking and posting such yearly lists on his blog since 2009. Incidentally, his blog is called the “Soderblogh,” which is the only justifiable use of the word “blog” I have found thus far in my life.
Typically, we only see the output of artists, the end result they prepare for and present to us. But the end result is a small part of the process, and while you can’t always, or ever, directly trace a certain input to a corresponding output, getting insight on what artists take in themselves is an interesting exercise. It’s even interesting if the people in question aren’t strictly artists, but just other individuals observing and reflecting about the world through the art they interact with.
Which brings us to my own media log. Starting at the beginning of 2017, I began logging all the books, films, television series, podcast series and theater performances I took in. In 2018, I added music performances and in 2019 I added screenplays. My general rules:
- I log items when I finish them. Long books often take several days and television series often take several weeks. Full disclosure, I’ve been slowly working my way through Middlemarch for a year now. No judgment.
- I treat collections as items. For example, I don’t log an individual instance of a television show, but I’ll log when I complete the entire television series.
- Rereads/rewatches/relistens count. Good stuff needs repeated consideration.
I keep my logs on my website at: jenmyers.net/log/
If you’re interested in a similar experiment, I put up the media log template I use on my own website. You can grab the HTML and put it in your own. Swap in or out any media types you do/don’t take in.
Here’s the thing to remember about keeping a media log—it’s not just about list making and it’s not about reducing art to a number consumed. I suppose if either of those things are things you’re into, you can make it about that. But, for me, logging what I take in serves more purposes. It makes me think more deliberately about what I’m taking in. It makes me want to be well-rounded in what I choose to take in. And it reminds me that taking in art makes me happier. When I elevate it to a documented priority, I end up happier. Which is a valid enough of an output for me.