Posted by Retta Casavant
What should a writer be doing when they aren’t writing?
Everyone needs a hobby or an interest outside work. Staying focused too long on only your tasks-at-hand and trudging through the details and minutia of the daily grind can be more wearing if there isn’t some kind of significant break.
There is research that shows that using a different part of your brain for even a few minutes can help keep you better equipped to deal with your usual work. For example, for someone to pick up a mathematical book to read and think about even for five minutes (whether mathematically inclined or inept) can change thought patterns and the physiology of what’s going on in the brain for that time. This is apparently a healthy way to keep the whole brain more active and in more simple terms take a rest from the usual thought patterns (or ruts).
What’s a good hobby for a writer?
Emily Dickinson loved to bake. Apparently, she made vast quantities of baked goods and then shared them with children in her neighbourhood. Less surprisingly, Ernest Hemingway enjoyed hunting and fishing. Sylvia Plath took up beekeeping and found great satisfaction in its practicality.
There are a million ways for a person to disconnect from work and get absorbed in something else. Most people don’t have a problem knowing what it is they want to spend time doing. There are some however, who simply can’t imagine what on earth they would do if they weren’t working. Whether it’s easy or hard to switch your brain to a hobby or pastime, it is definitely something that can help the creative process and reduce work fatigue.
What to do, what to do…..
Some hobbies that may provide some material for writers while being away from the desk are people watching, eavesdropping and generally being snoopy about other people. You could label these activities “realistic dialogue research”. Reading may not be the best pastime for writers as you may find yourself critiquing the writing or worse, trying to figure out how to emulate it. Hobbies further removed from how you make your living are probably more effective in giving you an effective break.
If you want to switch gears but not necessarily get away from your computer screen, there is Pinterest where you can swoon over decorating ideas, recipes, gardens or inspirational messages.
Collecting things is a hobby many people have. Ayn Rand was a stamp collector. Tracking down and collecting things like postcards, snow globes or antique buttons can most certainly create some different brain synapses than the written word does. Home brewed alcoholic beverage making is popular and astronomy remains a strong contender as well.
If you don’t currently have a hobby and need an instant fix, you can do something easy like throw on a movie for a couple hours or get out and go for a walk.
Writers! If you don’t have a hobby or something that captivates you outside of your work, get off the keyboard now and go out into the world and find an interest! It may save those parts of your brain that are presently collecting cobwebs. A writer’s biggest tool is the brain. Let’s keep that tool at peak efficiency by doing something completely different!