Writing doesn’t happen like magic. As much as we would like to believe it, the idea that we sit down for several hours and inspired words start spilling out of our fingers or pen just isn’t true.
I remember when I was younger, I dreamed of being a real writer, where writing novels was my sole job. I would get up in the morning, make coffee, and then do nothing but create all day long.
Here’s the thing, though. You have to do something other than write. If you assume that writing is your passion, and therefore, you don’t need anything else, you will instill a monotonous pattern into your life rather than a rhythm of creativity that lets you interact with the world in ways that inspire and invigorate.
My husband, oddly enough, taught me this concept. One time when we were dating, he asked me what my hobbies were. I said I liked writing, reading, and watching movies. “Yes,” he said, “but what are your hobbies? Like, what do you do for fun?”
This struck me as interesting because I realized I didn’t really have any hobbies. Writing is too much a part of what I do vocationally to be a hobby, and because reading is a huge part of what makes me a better writer, it’s not a hobby but rather a conduit for my work.
What hobbies did I have?
I understand now that I can’t just write (or run a business) all the time. If I do, I’ll get burned out, no matter how much I love writing.
I need things to keep my creativity alive and extend it outward from whatever writing I’m working on.
So, I do long-distance cycling (which also has much-needed health benefits). I play guitar and violin even though I’m not very good at either. This is fine with me because being “good” at your hobbies isn’t the point—it’s that you’re accessing a different part of your brain than when you are writing, which means that your creative capacities are strengthened.
After all, writing is not just about putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard; it's a journey of exploration and self-discovery. And what better way to fuel that journey than by embracing new hobbies that inspire and energize your writing?
You’ll be surprised at how much better a writer you’ll become. Here are some ideas of hobbies for writers that you might consider.
Photography and Writing Inspiration
Photography is more than just a hobby; it's a way of seeing the world through a different lens (literally). It helps you train your eyes to see everyday life's beauty, capturing and freezing these moments in time.
But how does photography relate to writing? As a photographer, you develop a keen eye for detail. You learn to notice the little things that others might overlook. Observing the world around you can infuse your writing with vivid descriptions and sensory details that bring your words to life.
I have a friend in my writing community who exemplifies this trait. All of the stories he shares in our forum are accompanied by photos he took that bring extra meaning to the words. The visual makes my experience of reading his stories much richer because of his multimedia approach.
Furthermore, photography can also serve as a source of inspiration. As you explore different subjects and experiment with various techniques, you'll encounter new ideas and perspectives that can spark your creativity. Framing a shot or composing an image can teach you about composition and storytelling, skills directly transferable to writing.
Go on a Writing Journey with Travel
Traveling to new places opens up a world of possibilities and provides you with fresh perspectives that can breathe new life into your writing. Each destination you visit has unique stories to tell, which can infuse your sense of place in your work with detail and texture.
When you travel, you leave your comfort zone and expose yourself to different cultures, languages, and experiences. This exposure can broaden your horizons and enrich your writing with diverse perspectives. You can draw inspiration from the sights, sounds, and smells of a foreign land, incorporating them into your stories to invent places of your own or transport your readers to existing settings.
Traveling also allows you to break free from routine and experience new adventures. The memories you create while traveling become a source of inspiration you can tap into whenever you need a creative boost.
Cooking and Adding Flavor to Your Work
Confession: I do NOT like to cook. Spending a lot of time preparing something I’m just going to eat anyway isn’t an enjoyable use of my time, and it’s not a hobby I aspire to pursue. Yet, one of my favorite books is The Supper of the Lamb by Robert Farrar Capon.
In this book, Capon writes beautifully about his passion for cooking, which makes me understand why food and hospitality are a source of rich creativity for so many people. He also shows how this love of food can provide a metaphor for people who practice other creative disciplines by revealing the need to pay attention to the world we live in.
Allow me to quote a passage from this book at length:
Man's real work is to look at the things of the world and to love them for what they are. That is, after all, what God does, and man was not made in God's image for nothing. The fruits of his attention can be seen in all the arts, crafts, and sciences. It can cost him time and effort, but it pays handsomely. If an hour can be spent on one onion, think how much regarding it took on the part of that old Russian who looked at onions and church spires long enough to come up with St. Basil's Cathedral.
Another example is the writings of Anthony Bourdain, who was not only an expert on food, travel, and culture but also a brilliant author. Bourdin exercised the attention to detail that Capon describes—he observed the world around him so precisely that his readers got to experience his love for the subject matter.
The point is that when you cook, you become attuned to different ingredients' smells, tastes, and textures. You learn to appreciate the nuances of flavors and how they blend to create a harmonious dish. This heightened sensory awareness can be translated into your writing, allowing you to describe scents, tastes, and textures in a way that engages your readers' senses.
Furthermore, cooking is a creative process that encourages experimentation. Like writing, it requires you to think outside the box, combine different elements, and create something unique. This mindset can inspire you to take risks with your writing, explore new genres, and push your creativity's boundaries.
Cultivating Ideas Through Gardening
I know a ton of creative people who garden. Gardening at first glance might seem like a heavy-handed metaphor—after all, you are taking the seed of something and caring for it until it becomes fully grown.
But the gardeners I know have told me there's something magical about getting your hands dirty and nurturing a tiny seed into a blooming plant. Gardening is a hobby that connects you with nature, allowing you to witness the beauty of growth and change firsthand.
Also, when you spend time in the garden, you become attuned to the rhythms of nature. You learn to observe the changing seasons, the delicate dance of flowers, and the resilience of plants. These observations can be a rich source of inspiration for your writing.
Gardening also teaches you patience and resilience. It takes time for a plant to grow, just as it takes time for a story to unfold. Tending to your garden teaches you to embrace the process and trust in the journey. This mindset can be applied to your writing, allowing you to stay committed and persevere through the challenges that come your way.
Here’s a writing prompt from Andrew Peterson to get you started with seeing the influence of nature already at work in your memory: write about a specific tree you remember from some point in your life. You might be surprised at what unfolds as you remember its role.
Exercise and Writing
I mentioned earlier that I’m a long-distance cyclist, so this topic is near and dear to my heart. One of my favorite authors, Patricia Cornwell, said in an interview years ago that if you are going to be a professional writer, you must also become an athlete. That has stuck with me for years and inspired me to make exercise a part of my creative life.
Because writing is a sedentary activity, sitting for extended periods can harm your physical and mental well-being. Incorporating exercise and outdoor activities into your routine is essential for maintaining a healthy and productive writing lifestyle.
You don’t have to become a runner or ride twenty miles a day on a bike. You can find outdoor activities that get you out and about, including swimming, hiking, fishing, or just taking breaks to walk around outside.
Moreover, exercise and outdoor activities offer a break from the screen and allow you to disconnect from technology. This break can rejuvenate you and give you a fresh perspective when you return to your writing.
During these moments of physical activity and outdoor exploration, your subconscious mind can work on ideas, leading to breakthroughs and new insights. I have my best ideas and come up with the most useful solutions to creative problems when on the bike.
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