By: Kim Olgren
Stephen King does jigsaw puzzles, plays guitar, and bowls. Emily Dickenson loved baking. Agatha Christie traveled with her husband. E. Cummings painted. Jackie Collins is into soul music and photography.
Hobbies. Every writer could use one or two.
“Why would I need a hobby? Don’t I have enough to do as a writer?” You may ask.
While writers do have full schedules (surprisingly, “other” people do too), spending time on a hobby can be beneficial in many ways.
Certain hobbies help keep you healthy. Stephen King is among may writers who have been know to take a daily walk. Here in Colorado many writers have outdoor hobbies such as hiking, biking, running, paddle boarding, skiing, and much more. Physical hobbies help your body release feel-good chemicals in your brain and rid your body of toxins, helps you focus better, and sleep better, and that helps you write better. Plus, expending energy on physical hobbies, actually gives you more energy for everything else, including writing. Many times, these hobbies are combined with other hobbies like photography or camping.
I used to help out one of my hubby’s former employers with tagging merchandise. It sounds monotonous, poking those little plastic things with a tag through item after item, case after case of…stuff. Sounds downright mind-numbing right? Wrong! I had some of my most creative ideas when I was doing this work. Why? Because my inner critic was focused on doing the job and not poking myself with the tagging gun, which left my imagination unsupervised and free to make up whatever it wanted to. The same goes for seemingly repetitive hobbies like knitting or crocheting. These hobbies allow the mind to unwind and stretch out.
You need to get out among the people sometimes. Yes. I said it. You have to go OUT. Look, you can’t make good stories in a vacuum. If you’re not getting out once in a while, you’re missing the opportunity to gather valuable story fodder. Hobbies like spectator sports, joining a park and recreation softball league, a dart league, or just walking the mall make you get out amongst your fellow humans and help to remind you of how people act, for better or worse.
Hobbies help fill the well. When I’m relaxing with my hubby on the sofa watching TV and crocheting, just chilling, I’m filling the well. When I’m walking my dog or playing ball with her in the back yard, I’m refilling the well. When I’m chilling with a good book that I’m reading just for fun (yes, you should do this too), I’m refilling the well. Do whatever refills your well. Do it regularly. This is one of the most important things writers can do for themselves.
Finally, hobbies can help you overcome your writing problems. Have a sticky plot problem? Take a walk or play the guitar. Trying to figure out how best to get those love interests together? Go hang out at the mall and people watch the couples (but don’t be creepy about it, no one wants to be that person). Feeling stuck? Bake something, even if it’s cookies out of the refrigerated section at the grocery store, so that you can feel like you’ve accomplished something when you take the final product out of the oven.
So, my writer friends, if you haven’t already picked up the thing that helps you unwind or helps you get inspired, fear not! There are tons of things to do. Some of the writers I know do things like:
Reading (for pleasure)
Playing an instrument
Role playing games
And many more! Think about what interests you and Google from there. The possibilities are seemingly endless. Relax and write on my writerly friends
Kim Olgren has loved reading widely and voraciously as far back as she can remember. She devours stories like other people devour potato chips. She joined Pikes Peak Writers in 2016 hoping to find like-minded people and hone her skills to write the stories swirling around in her mind, and she was not disappointed. Kim writes speculative fiction, mostly, and is a frequent victim of “shiny idea syndrome” which causes her to work on multiple projects at a time.
When she’s not writing, Kim can be found running a real estate investment business and flipping houses with her husband, hanging out with her grandkids, camping and traipsing around the local mountainous areas with her family. A fan of anything artistic or creative, she also loves crafting beautiful things out of a variety of materials.