Do you watch TV? Do you go see movies? Do you keep up with the Mel Gibson tapes? The Lindsay Lohan arrest? The Gary Coleman death? Who won American Idol? In other words, do you keep up with Pop Culture?
I’ve been on twitter a lot lately, and I’ve met some people who claim they don’t have a TV and are proud of it. I think that’s pretty admirable. TV’s are huge time suck. But they are also quite useful for studying what works and doesn’t in a story (that’s all TV shows are!). I watch movie and disect them. I watch TV shows and disect them. I read books and disect them. I think you can learn from all forms of story telling, not just books.
I also think that all writers can get good tidbits for stories from just keeping up with pop culture. Even if you don’t write books that are set in the mainstream timeline you can still get information on human nature, and twists that occur just from our normal, sometimes droll lives.
Don’t short change yourself when it comes to learning about these things. Don’t eschew pop culture because it’s too gauche or for the lowest common denominator of humans. There’s a lot you can learn from all these different venues of entertainment.