Monday, January 7, 2019

Get Thee A Hobby

A post by Mary Fan
Happy 2019, everyone! Mary here, and I hope you're having a more productive start to the year than I am. Because goodness knows, I haven't gotten much of anything done lately. Maybe it's the winter blues. Maybe it's a writing funk. Who knows. Whatever the cause, the fact is, I just haven't felt like writing lately. And while I know I could beat the words out of me if I had to, what emerged wouldn't be all that great (I've been through this particular cycle before).

It's easy for writing to swallow up one's life. When you're really, really into a project, it's easy to let it swallow you completely... in fact, in that moment, it's all you want to do. You live and breathe your stories, feel as if you are your characters and you live in your world, and itch for the keyboard or pen every moment you're way from it. It's an amazing feeling, it's so, so easy to embrace it at the cost of everything else. Things you were once into suddenly seem like a waste of time because The Book is all that matters.

And then comes the work that goes with The Book. The revising, the querying/submitting, the marketing... Being an author really is a full-time job, and for most of us, we're trying to do that on top of a day job (not to mention family and social commitments, for those who have them). Again, anything else seems like a waste of time.

But the problem is, when The Book becomes everything and all things, it's easy to start feeling like one's worth is tied to The Book and how it does. And unfortunately, that's not something we can control. Oh, we can write beautiful words and even pay professionals to make them beautiful-er. But that doesn't mean The Powers That Be will want to buy the beautiful-ness. And even if they do, that doesn't mean the readers will appreciate and spend money on the thing-of-true-beauty. Even if you spend all your time and energy (and maybe money) on getting it front of your faces. Publishing often feels like a lottery, one in which more time/effort/money/talent/connections can buy you extra entries, but can't guarantee a win.

So it's important to be able to step back now and then and enjoy things that have nothing whatsoever to do with The Book. Things that are utterly unproductive in a professional sense, and that ideally have nothing whatsoever to do with your sense of self worth. In other words, hobbies.

Now, I don't mean those X-TREME hobbies that seem to have taken over the world lately. Where it's not enough to just like running; you have to be training for a marathon. Or where it's not enough to be good at make-up; you have to run a beauty blog with an accompanying YouTube account. No, I mean hobbies you engage in just for the hell of it. That you know you'll never be "good" at, that you don't want to be "good" at. Baking because you like making sweet treats, not because you want to go on the Great British Baking Show. Doing yoga because it relaxes you, not because you want to become famous on Instagram because of how fabulous you look.

In other words, hobbies you're totally mediocre at, and that you're okay with being mediocre at.

Me? I've had a lot of hobbies over the years, and I dropped them all for a period of time because I wanted to live and breathe books all day. Now, I'm back into it, and it's much easier to accept a writing funk when you've got other things to fill your time (I still spend way too much time watching TV and napping, but at least it isn't *all* the time). Currently, my hobbies of choice are choir (I'm an ensemble singer through and through and have zero desire for a solo), kickboxing (for workout purposes only right now; don't care about being competitive), and aerial silks (I really, really suck, and it's not like I was ever going to join Cirque du Soleil or anything). The nice thing about all of these is that they all force my brain way from whatever worries I have--about writing or otherwise (it's really hard to let your mind wander when you're dangling by your arms trying to loop a piece of fabric around your foot so you can stand up mid-air).

(I'm that tiny blur in the back row about six from the left)

What about you? What do you do to get away from the world of writing?


Karissa Laurel said...

I'm training for a 5 mile race. I don't want to win, I just want yo be able to complete it without dying. I used to run all the time but my aging knees don't like it mich. But I hadn't realized how much I missed it and how much I love being ouside more. I also completed a painting project for a Christmas and that was a fun way to be creative. I also spend A LOT of time in the kitchen on the weekends. Cooking has always been my passion, right up there with writing, but I don't usually have time during the week to do big, homemade meals, but I make up for it on the weekends if I can. I agree with you--writing can consume you, but I'm a lot happier when I can take breaks and find other things to focus on. I can't wait for it to get warm again so I can get back on the water. I love paddling and being on our boat with my family.

Kimberly G. Giarratano said...

I've been baking a lot. And I weight train three days a week. Also, day drinking? Is that a hobby? Just kidding....

Mary Fan said...

Nice!! I loved your painting project!! Also super jealous of all your lake time haha

Mary Fan said...

I think it’s good for those of us who have to think a lot for our passions to have hobbies that are primarily physical... forces those voices in our heads to shut up haha


Carrie Beckort said...

I like reading, but since I started writing it's not quite the escape from 'work' like it used to be. I do like just about all crafts, so that's where I tend to get my escape.

Brenda St John Brown said...

I exercise a fair bit, but I don't have a real hobby, per se. Except reading, and like Carrie says, that's not always a break. I have to find a better way to get out of my own head though b/c you're right...the writing and the jobs that come with writing are neverending!

Braden Elmore said...

My hobby is to sit in front of my computer screen and work.

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