More About Hobbies

writing-2Last time I spoke to you all about my woodworking hobby, and how much I loved it.  While that particular joy has been stored away indefinitely in the recesses of time, I do have other hobbies I enjoy and am actively pursuing.

One of those is writing.  I’ve done a lot of serious writing over the last year and a half or so, but only within the last several months have I felt I’ve really broken through to a level where I could consider doing this professionally someday.  In those several months, I’ve gotten some invaluable input from my friends who also write, like Sherri, and I’ve gotten more support than any one man deserves from my beloved.  Without those key elements, I couldn’t have grown as much as I have.

I look back on my past work – whether it was a teaser for a novel or story idea, or just some of the stuff that fell out of my head for various and sundry other reasons – and cringe sometimes.  I’m not saying I’ve achieved Nirvana and perfection in my writing now, but I’m a far cry better than I was even a year ago.  It’s measurable, visible growth, which is always rewarding.

To achieve that growth, I’ve done things like read books and blogs about the craft of writing (some of the blogs I read are listed in the Writer’s Resources section of my blogroll if you’re interested) and reading stuff other writers have written.  I never cease to learn a new technique, phrase, word or style I want to try by reading some of my favorite writers, like Stephen King (please, people, like he wouldn’t be the first name off my fingertips?), Amy Tan, John Steinbeck, Lawrence Sanders, Mary Higgins Clark, et. al.  There’s always something I can glean from their experience, talent and creativity, and apply it to my own writing.  Kind of like copying, but … without the actual, you know … plagiarism.

Lately, though, I’ve had horrible writer’s block.  And when I’m not blocked, I should be editing my current WIP, Ghost Hunters.  But … I’m not.  Why?  I don’t know.  I love writing, I even like editing – it’s fun!  I get to be my own worst critic and rip myself to shreds.  But it’s just not happening for me right now.  I can’t say why.

How about you?  When you have frustration or reach some other impasse in your favorite hobby – or even your job or career – how do you solve it?  What measures do you take to break out and get those creative juices flowing and your hands moving again?


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11 thoughts on “More About Hobbies

  1. I personally enjoy reading and editing (and commenting on the work of others). At times, I feel like writing – but, most of my thoughts always stay as drafts in my unfinished work. The only time I enjoy writing is when responding to ‘business’ mails. Other than that, I write very little. But, I keep giving a lot of instructions on ‘what’ needs to be written – most of them are skeletons – I enjoy doing them!

    – David.

    Hi, David, thanks for stopping by and commenting! Welcome!

    I agree, editing the work of others often helps me in a lot of ways, but I can’t say it helped me get my creative juices flowing unfortunately. I’m always on the look-out for beta readers, too, so now I’ll have your name on my radar! (j/k)

  2. I find my creative juices flow best when I’m sitting down and can’t really get up. For example, when I’m driving and stuck in traffic. My creative outlet is my blog. I think I do my best rants when I’m in my car, but by the time I reach a computer, the mood has left me.

    Have you considered carrying a little digital recorder so you can rant right into it? Then you’ll have it when you get home, along with any other thoughts you might want to add as the day/drive progresses.

    My fiction writing which is entirely for my own amusement and therefore there is very little of it, comes to me when I’m on the john. I can’t explain it, but I just get a lot of ideas for stories when I’m doing my business. I’m not trying to think up story ideas. I don’t really have the desire to write stories, but I get a bunch of ideas when I do my thing.

    I didn’t know you wrote fiction. How ’bout letting us see some of it?

    That’s an … interesting spot for inspiration. I can’t say a bolt of inspiration has ever struck me while I was pushing a loaf. Do you carry a notepad in there with you?

  3. I look for inspiration. When I have a really great focal point (bead, pendant, whatever) and I can’t imagine it in a piece then I use my go-to resource, the Internet, to see what artists have done with similar items. While it’s not completely plagiarism, it opens my mind up to what I *could* do with it. Sometimes I take pieces from three or four different designs and string them together (no pun intended) to make one finished piece.

    See? I didn’t even know you did beadworking! Or … whatever it’s called. Heh.

    Also, I’ve found that sometimes physically packing it away and taking a ‘vacation’ from it helps. It happens to all of us… there’s something you know that needs to be finished / worked on and you know that you NEED to do it but instead you focus on other more ‘important’ things that suddenly need your attention so that you don’t have to go back to the thing you’re procrastinating on. Ummm, hopefully that made sense.

    It did. The pressure of the “have to” mentality is heavy and hard. Sometimes letting it be okay *not* to work on it is better for the creative process.

    Or, an even worse scenario, you’re paralyzed by the thought of completing that one task yet you KNOW it’s the most important. Instead of switching gears, working on something else, and coming back to the original task you do mundane meaningless stuff like watch tv, sit around waiting for inspiration to strike, or sleep. I’m partial to sleeping as a form of procrastination. 🙂

    I like sleep too. I don’t think the fear of success is the problem here though. I don’t know if I’m objective enough to say, but I don’t think I’m having that issue.

    Give yourself permission to put it away and set a date to revisit it. This way you can live your life without feeling like there’s a chain around your ankle holding you to finish that task. You may find yourself refreshed and ready to tackle it when you come back to it.

    Good luck! ~k

    Thanks! I appreciate the support!

  4. hmmm, well I look around me…at life and usually blogging is my form of therapy! Hope your juices get revived…maybe you need a vacation?! 🙂

    Well, before any vacation, I need a JOB. With PAY. And a REAL job, not contract work. Or a wealthy spouse. But … not so much success there. 😉 Thanks for coming by and the kind words.

  5. I cry about it until it goes away. But that takes a looooong time. Well, yesterday I got unstuck by writing with a pen for a while, but you probably already knew that.

    Actually, no I didn’t. I think I’m ready to try crying about it to make it go away! That sounds like my kinda thing! 😀

  6. Running is my most favorite hobby and tendonitis has slowed me to a fast walk since August. So I work around it by walking – a lot – and I am taking up spin.

    So have you tried simply writing around the block? Making up back story for characters or writing conversations between them or just little throw away scenes? Just because the novel itself is stuck doesn’t mean that the characters have nothing to say to you.

    No, actually, that’s a trick I haven’t tried yet. It’s worth a shot! Thanks!

  7. That little tape recorder (or digital for you high tech gadgets freaks out there) is a good idea. Hmmm…

    As for the fiction, it’s all really short stuff. If it’s written down anywhere, it’s already on the blog. Sometimes it morphs into a (attempted) humourous essay. I’d say about 50% of the time, it gets deleted before completion.

    That’s too bad! You do sardonic humor pretty well, I bet it would be a hit.

  8. Ya know this could be completely off base but I felt like I’m writing for other people and not myself. Those first rounds of critiques really messed with my head and caused me to be unhappy with my work and myself instead of enjoying the experience of storytelling.

    Sorry to hear that, bud. The critiques are supposed to help guide a writer toward improvement. Hearing bad things about something you’ve worked so hard on is tough, though, and can be discouraging. I hope this won’t put you off too much, and I hope you’ll come back. Just remember it’s all writer’s choice.

    I think I’m just not going to even deal with it for the rest of the week. I went back and looked at Chapter 1 of JotA and was very frustrated with the way I had written but ya know what? I had no clue how to fix it or make it better! I’ll get back to it eventually. When I’m ready that is. I want to find the enjoyment again. That’s what I’m missing. I want to write JotA for ME. If other people like it, then fine. If it gets published, then fine. If I get filthy stinking rich, then fine!

    Yee-haw to THAT, dude! Writing for enjoyment and pleasure, and getting filthy, stinking rich in the process is what it’s ALL about! 😀

    Make sure you are doing things for your own enjoyment my friend. If you don’t do it for yourself what type of fun can you be having? Then it becomes work.

    Well, that’s true, but remember — it IS called “a WORK of fiction” for a reason. 😉 And I do enjoy it, even when stuck. 🙂 Thanks for the encouragement, too.

    Have fun! Finish Witch Hunt! Write a comedy piece about your Governor! Harass your friends in Ohio! Have some fun my friend. Find your love of the craft again. Sometimes it is possible to put too much work into what we love instead of just enjoying it!

    And how can I argue that? It’s so true. Maybe I’m just being too harsh on myself. And I know my current employment situation isn’t helping my creativity any.

  9. When I have a writing slump some stuff that gets me back in the game –

    1. Reading Robert E. Howard. My very favorite pulp writer. Every time I read his stuff, I get excited to write. Every time I write action sequences, my goal is to make them as heart-pumpingly awesome as his.

    2. Reading the first 3 chapters of “Zen and the art of writing” by Ray Bradbury.

    3. Exercising. After about 3 days of doing morning exercises, my head starts to think more clearly.

    4. Switch between pen and paper and computer. Whichever I’m using most, I switch.

    5. I listen to a certain list of my favorite classical pieces. The ones that make me want to march into battle.

    Oh, yeah, and I forgot to mention on my hobbies – I’m currently learning to play the harmonica.

    I’ve been trying something similar to your #1 trick here by plowing through a Stephen King book right now. I forgot how much I love King’s writing, until I got re-acquainted with him with On Writing. It’s been nice to have him there, but so far I’m just in awe rather than inspired. Maybe that will come later. And I really need to find a copy of that Bradbury book. Maybe it’ll help, and so many writers swear by it.

    Switching to pen and paper I tried a couple of weeks ago with my new book idea. I jotted down some of the initial notes and the first part of what could be considered a loose outline. Now I have to get back to it. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll do it in Text Tree. 😉

    Thanks for stopping by, and make sure you give us a sound byte of that harmonica! We loved the Christmas carols!

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