Why writers need hobbies and a midweek ROW80 check-in

The other night, I felt this restlessness creeping up on me. It always happens when I’m bored, and I told my husband about it. Without missing a beat, he simply said, “You need a hobby.”

photo by Natasha Hanova, WANA Commons

photo by Natasha Hanova, WANA Commons

Well, he’s right. When I had a day job, my spare time was filled with writing, so storytelling—at that time a second job/career—filled up that space in my life. But now I’m writing full time, and I can fill that space with something else. For the sake of work-life balance, I don’t want to spend every spare moment of my life writing, tempting as that might be.

Just like any other artist, I need to fill the well of creativity, and that’s exactly what hobbies allow us to do. Whether it’s fencing or quilting, writers need to be more than writers. Personally, I’d like to take up gardening, but all I have is a space for a few containers on my balcony, so that doesn’t take up too much of my time. Plus, there’s something special about connecting with the soil, the earth—a connection I don’t feel when container gardening. That hobby will have to wait until I have a yard.

So one of my quests for this month is to find something besides writing to fill my days and nights—and to ensure that the well of creativity doesn’t run dry.

“How vain it is to sit down to write when one has not stood up to live.” –Henry David Thoreau

Midweek ROW80 check-in

1.) Writing:

  • Finish the second draft of the novella I finished in Round 1, “Good Old-Fashioned Magic.” Finished the read-through and made editing notes for each scene. I’ll spend the rest of this week working on the scene chart and character bios, which I left unfinished when I was caught up in writing the first draft. Next week, I’m digging into revising!

2.) Read 4 books on the craft/business of writing.

  • 3 of 4 books read so far. I’m taking this week off to read a personal finance book.

3.) Social media:

  • Check in on Twitter daily. On track to meet this goal.
  • Comment on 3-5 blogs per day, Monday-Thursday. So far, so good.
  • Blog 2 times a week. On track.

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. It’s also a blog hop!

What about you? Do you find that having a hobby enriches your writing? What’s your favorite pastime aside from writing?

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29 thoughts on “Why writers need hobbies and a midweek ROW80 check-in

  1. You know, I never thought about that. I work full time and write in my “free time” (whatever that is). I never thought what it would be like if I was writing full time. I imagine I would have to get a hobby. Eek. I guess I could always go back to swinging lightsabers around. 😉 Good luck on your revisions!

  2. I love the quote you included from Thoreau. I have always felt that there is a delicate balance between writing and doing. As you say, it is so very tempting to devote every last second of your free time writing. But, in the end, it is the living of life, the partaking in activities outside of writing that cause the creative juices to flow, allowing the muse within to awaken. Reading, jigsaw puzzles, and enjoying a fine glass of wine (wait a second, is that really a hobby?). These are the activities that seem to fuel the fire inside. Thanks for sharing and best wishes for an inspired day 🙂

    • That’s a great list of hobbies, Dave. I’m a big believer that we need a little adventure now and then in order to fill the creative well. I’m a better writer when I’m leading a full, well-rounded life. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  3. What a coincidence that this post is today – I was just thinking the same thing. My life is just the same – when I had a “real” job, writing was my hobby. Now writing is my job – I need a new hobby! Personally, I’ve been bouncing around taking up the guitar again. I’m curious to see what you decide! 🙂

    • Guitar sounds like fun. Good luck! At the moment, I’ve been trying to spend as much time as possible outdoors, whether sitting on my balcony and reading or taking the dog for a long walk. I hike and play tennis on the weekends, but I’m ready to add something that I can do when it’s raining or I’m by myself. We’ll see what I come up with.

  4. Whoa. I never really thought about that, but maybe that’s why some of the more recent weeks left me feeling so…off. A lack of hobby. I’ve gotten back to playing some old school games on my phone (Hellooooo, EarthBound!) and I picked up painting, and I”ve had throwing together a cosplay for the upcoming ACen convention, and I haven’t had that feeling at all. Your husband is on point.

    Maybe this means I finally need to start that sewing thing I’ve been meaning start…

    Some of us just need to have lots to do, I think. Great job on keeping track of all your goals!

    • All of those things sound like fun. You’re right that some of us just like to–or need to–stay busy. I can’t have too much downtime or I grow restless, so it’s time to find a meaningful hobby to fill that time.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Would it surprise you if I said I have lots of hobbies? =) reading, Star Trek (lots of Star Trek!), retro TV shows, singing, taking pictures, editing them, selected games, long walks, long talks, swimming, decorating, being with my husband and kids, camping, growing things, traveling….

    At this point, finding time for them and all the ones I’d like to have is a bigger challenge!

    May you have a wonderful adventure as you explore! =D

    • Thanks, Shan Jeniah. No, it doesn’t surprise me at all that you have so many hobbies. It would be challenging to try to find time for all of those things, but you seem to strike a good balance. 🙂

  6. A hobby that I’ve found works really well to compliment writing is taking photos. I love taking photos, I’ll often walk around with my camera looking for things to shoot (although I’m still too shy to approach random people and ask to photograph them ). It’s great because it’s creative in a totally different way, and it makes you look at things differently.

    • That sounds like a wonderful hobby. I do have a decent digital camera that I could use, although I’d have to find places other than my apartment complex where I could take photos. I’ll have to try this! Thanks for the suggestion.

    • Me too. I actually enjoyed pulling weeds back when I had a garden. I do have a few containers on my balcony. I’ve grown everything from peppers to basil to geraniums, but it’s no substitute for having a yard of my own.

  7. I’m with Celine. Taking photographs opens up new ways of seeing that cross over to the writing. I feel more connected to the changes of seasons. You already know I love quilting, that losing of self into color and shape, the letting go of certain kinds of thinking that go with writing, a kind of busy meditation, the hands moving, the mind quiet. Some people like cooking as well. I hope you share your decisions/explorations. Lovely quotes here. I liked your emphasis on craft and the ‘business’ of writing — a concept I’m still learning as I go.

    • Quilting, knitting, sewing, etc. all seem like wonderful hobbies that complement the act of writing. I might try cooking or baking as a hobby, though I tend to see those things more as chores than hobbies. Maybe I need to change my outlook.

      Thanks, Beth. Have a great day and thanks for stopping by!

  8. I love that quote. I work full time and consider writing to be another ‘job’ as opposed to a hobby. Any spare *cough* time I have is spent either training/trialing my dogs, other creative pursuits, or just all the little things that need to be kept up on around here. I hope you find something that fits your needs and gives your soul the recharging it needs.

    • I worked three jobs for a while, and I had zero time for hobbies. It wasn’t until recently that I even had the energy to think about finding a new hobby–or rediscovering an old one. I love spending time with my pets (a dog and three cats) and finding little ways to keep them entertained–we recently bought some compressed catnip mice and a wheat grass plant for the cats, and they’re super-happy. The dog and I take long walks together every afternoon (at least when the weather holds), so I guess that could sort of be considered a hobby.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  9. Pingback: Tracking down the elusive stress relief | Line, word, letter

  10. Hobbies are great things, until you get too many of them. I’ve got so many I tend to neglect or go through burst/binges on them. The only one I’ve truly given up is wine making. It only takes about 1 hour at most a week, but with everything else… I left one batch sit there for nearly a year! I gave my husband all the supplies and he took over keeping the fermented fruit flowing. It fits his schedule perfectly.

    Right now my main hobby is probably pet stuff. Working on plans for a chicken coop, figuring which chicken breeds I’m interested in/are good for my purposes, hamster enriching (DIY toys, treats, cage decorating, and research into making my hamster’s life better), and general care (4 fish tanks, 3 dogs, & 1 hamster take quite a bit of time). As for current binge/burst hobby, I’m getting back into anime and have started watching LOG HORIZON.

    Good job on the goals. You’re doing great!

    • Raising chickens sounds fun. My parents have a chicken coop and I know they enjoy raising chickens (as long as they don’t get any roosters, who don’t usually have the friendliest of personalities). I agree that the time I spend with my pets is rewarding. I used to foster dogs for the local animal shelter when they ran out of space; it was hard but worthwhile. Unfortunately, the way my apartment complex is currently run doesn’t allow for fostering, so that’s not an option at the moment. I look forward to hearing more about your pets. Sounds like you have a wonderful zoo at your house. Animals always keep things lively and interesting.

      Thanks for stopping by, Gloria!

      • Because I live in a highly residential area, I will definitely not be getting roosters. I want to stick with just a couple (at most 3) chickens. However, after getting the new car (and accompanying car payments), I can only plan at this point. It might not be until next year that I get them. However, I’ll be read up and ready to take care of them proper when time comes!

  11. Great post and a perfect quote by Thoreau. I completely agree that you need to step away from the writing in order to refresh your mind and contemplate your next move. Also, sitting for such long stretches isn’t ideal for health.

    When I’m not writing, I try to be more active. I enjoy cooking, especially now that we’re getting some fresh herbs and veggies. I also garden (sorry, I know you’re limited to a balcony) and take long walks with our dog.

    Good luck with your writing and whatever hobby you decide to tackle.

    • I also get a lot of joy out of taking long walks with our dog, too. It’s so relaxing to get out in the sunshine every day!

      Gardening is a great pastime. I liked the satisfying feeling of yanking out weeds, and I often came up with plot solutions while weeding or watering.

      Thanks for commenting!

  12. Your check in reminds me that I have not hopped back into the ROW80 check ins. I miss those!

    As for hobbies, yes – it is good to have something that really gets me out of my writing brain, y’know? For me, music and photography are both helpful for getting me off my inner chit-chat hamster wheel. For my hubby, it’s cooking, among other things. Yum!

    ~Tui Snider, @TuiSnider on Twitter
    …dropping by from the #StoryDam chat weekly blog linky!
    Hope to see you at chat tonight (Thurs 8pmEDT)

    • I think hobbies are a great way to add a fresh perspective to our writing. True, stories can be filled with dragons and magic, with adventure and excitement, but this world has its own wonders that we can be part of.

      I love gardening, so I’m going to do what I can with my balcony. I also do a lot of hiking and dabble in tennis and yoga, all of which are good for body and mind. I’m thinking of adding something new. Who knows–maybe reading runes or exploring feng shui is in my future. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by, Tui!

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