On the Writing Benefits of Hobby Synergy

Peace in an Age of Metal and Men Cover
Peace comes to Texas

From now until Peace in an Age of Metal and Men comes out on June 7, I am writing a series of posts on writing, science fiction, and the creative process.

It isn’t long before ‘write what you know’ becomes ‘know more.’

Sure, writing what you know is a great place to start, but when the characters in your book take on harder and harder challenges, when they experience the exotic, or when they seek adventure, you’re going to want to have a deep well of knowledge from which to draw their skills and/or pain.

How do you find a hobby that supports your writing?

Following are some suggested hobbies that I’ve found useful:

  • Sports: Athletic activities are an excellent source of pain and suffering. They’re not only a great source of injury, but simple training can inspire new words for excruciating aches or bone-wrenching discomfort. You’ll also feel adrenaline, competition, and the exhilaration of success. Take these things and encase them in the amber of your writing. They are yours now. Forever.
  • Drinking: Look, there are a lot of drinking-related hobbies. Wine, beer, root beers. Learn how flavors are profiled in fancy wines and microbrews. Brew beers or make wine. Learn the different smells and flavors involved. Oh, and you know what? Hangovers are a great way to expand your vocabulary. And next time you’re trying to write about how it feels to be a jackass in public? Hey, this hobby can help.
  • Lockpicking: Yes, picking is a hobby. It’s a fun one. You versus locks of various complexity. It can be a competition for speed or just a challenge that you work on in your house. It’s a unique and odd skill, and that kind of thing can work its way into your writing. Generally hobbyists don’t use the skill to break and enter, but just think of all the great writable experiences a little jail time might provide?
  • Crafting Anything: Pottery, crochet, woodworking, quilting, painting. There are piles of hobbies that involve making order out of chaos. They’re all unique, and they all have great benefits for your writing, and not only in the obvious ways. Each of these has a community, a unique vocabulary, and a culture all its own.
  • Music: Musical instruments all have their own cultures and language. Join a choir and watch the superstitions that people use to keep their voices healthy. Try to weasel your way into a gang of oboists (those guys are trouble). Learn how to listen to songs that evoke strong emotion with few words or no words at all.
  • Photography: It changes how you see the world. You think of composition and color independent from the objects being photographed. Mess with color a little on photoshop and see how ‘green’ can become ‘HOLY-SHIT-GREEN’. How would you describe that change in words? I mean, besides what I just did there.

Look, you can’t write every free second of your life. Having a hobby that compliments your writing can help you enjoy life a little bit while you add to those skills. Of course, never feel guilty about not writing. Writing’s cool and all, but it’s not EVERYTHING. Hobbies, especially ones with close communities, can work wonders for your mental health in addition to all of the great stuff they can teach you.

Oh, and one final hint: ALL HOBBIES SUPPORT YOUR WRITING. So get out there and do something fun.

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