Hobby or Work? What’s Writing for You? #RUOKDay

A couple of weeks back I went through one of those bleak times every writer occasionally suffers through…

Long deep thoughts of self-doubt, questions towards whether I would ever get past a long haul of procrastination and excuses, and get on with a writing project. I even thought very seriously about closing down my blogs, social media profiles and doing away with my writer name.

Starting afresh on something FUN! and CREATIVE!, not this hard slog that is writing. Bleh. That’s what cried out to me as the little devil’s shoulder-sitting solution. Look into the light, it said…look at those funner dancing shiny creative things you could be doing…

Thankfully, and I can’t tell you what altered, other than the course of time, and I slowly got over it. (Okay, it took a massive lot of work and effort and self-analysis, hinted at below).

I am back at rejigging my novel concepts, have refound (most of) the passion I was lacking, and I’m also resolving the problem with my own creative soul. Put that way, it sounds pretty cosmic. It’s not. It’s just that, despite what many writers consider for themselves, I don’t find writing fiction at all creative enough.

I realise many creative writers believe they are creative, but I just don’t. Perhaps it’s coming from the more play-with-hands arts and crafts fields, perhaps it’s the sheer lineal act of writing that does it. Perhaps also, it was because I allowed my muse to take me for a long stroll down to exploring writing paradigms and structural elements – a field of study that not only looks at structures, but feels structured. Perhaps I was just sick of writing, and my Fail Fairy had come calling to find the house had been abandoned and set about a free-occupy for herself.

Enough with the metaphors temporarily…

There are contrary missives out there lately about using other creative pursuits whilst writing. –

side projects vennLast week in a long post, Lifehacker (via Buffer) discussed Why Creative Side Projects Are Good for You. In essence, the article points out that provided you choose a side project which doesn’t have a deadline to meet, or cause for financial concern if you fail – then you are more productive and creative in your real tasks – the ones which do have a deadline and financial outcomes to you. (The images here are from that article).

Creative Side ProjectsThis seemed kismet timing for my huge weeks-of-blah. A few days before Lifehacker posted I’d already concluded that in all the writing work I was doing, I’d forgotten that I was also an artist and hobby crafter.

I then took one of those motivational crafty-slash-inspiring courses out there (which seem to often be purposely marketed to women only, with pretty drawings and bright colours and things) with the objective to refasten onto what “I really was”. That seems a big mission, but eventually I decided that I was, from now on, to call myself a Writer-Artist or some-such thing. I even considered dedicating some concerted time to creating an Etsy business on some craft/art. Lifehacker’s Creative Side Projects were all I needed to flip me back into working order.

Then this arrived in the newsfeeds more recently –

Via 99U, The Best Way to Waste Your Time. Contrary to the above, this one suggests that the best way to remain creative is to do something differently in your break times than what you do in work projects. A quote from the brief article –

“The right distractions can boost creativity while others can leave us feeling drained. For example, if you’re stuck on a writing project, try doing something that doesn’t require you to create, something like watching funny videos.”

Rewiiindddd. Say what?!

If you’re stuck on a writing project, try doing something that doesn’t require you to create.

Read into this – writing is fully creative, so don’t try other creative hobbies outside of this.

Na ahhh. No way.

Writing – for me – is not fully creative. Sometimes it’s totally the opposite of creative – what is that? Oh…boring, that’s it. Structuring and planning, even minimally – yep, often boring. Writing – yep, can be boring, especially pushing out word count. Editing! Holy batman-having-a-cow-man! Totally boring. Totally. Losing your writing mojo? Soooooo totally globally big pit of boringggggg.

So I did some thinking on this, and realised that actually, both articles have some truth. Creating with my hands – it’s not a brainer. I can lose entire days in a craft-induced flow. A writing flow is less easy to maintain, I’ve found over several years of trying different methods for doing so.

Of course – crafting and artwork for me is part of my own vibe (which I was in denial of over the last few months) and also – it’s a no-stress doesn’t-really-matter hobby. Which makes it much easier. But also – when I am creating a big no-stress craft project which may take hours, it frees up my mind to work on my writing project. So creative crafting, despite what 99U says, is exactly what I need to do to find my creative mojo for writing.

Lifehacker are correct in another aspect also – those of us who look forward to a writing “career” also take some of that whole no-stress this-is-only-a-hobby aspect out of the tasks. And perhaps that’s also what happened to my passion for writing the WIP I’m on at this time. After so many months…mojo down!

It brings up the age-old question often discussed in writing circles – “Is Writing a Hobby or a Job?” There are as many answers to that as writers. Here are a couple –

Both posts mention the words “work” and “money” within some concept. I have experience of the first with writing, not yet the second. I would suggest that once I reach the second, writing will become even more of a job, and I’ll lose some more of my creative mojo from time to time.

And if I was to go into the whole Etsy selling my crafting/art stuff thing – that too would become bigger than a hobby and I would – at various points – lose my will to live craft.

But in the meantime, I’m back, and activating my new/old superpower of an artist-writer or writer-artist, whatever it ends up hyphenating being.

I would warn you that as my superpowers do develop this may entail a total rejig of the blog designs, and possible content. But not straight away. I need to write for a while. Possibly – but I’m making no commitment, all the way through NaNovember, but who knows.

writer-artist-superpower changeSo, if writing has become too much [hard] work for you, how have you brought in the free-flowing creativity of a hobby into this? Or maybe you just watch lots of Youtube?


In Australia today it happens to be National R U Okay? Day (yeah, it bemuses me too that September 11th now takes on both an international day of rememberance but now also a day to contemplate depression).

On a more positive note, it’s a good cause, and fellow Aussie writer, (and somebody who lives quite closeby), Zena Shapter has written a post on the subject – Have You Found your Life Mojo?. In this post, Zena gives us three quick questions to explore what makes us really tick, what our real superpowers (dig the tie-in?) may be. Go read, if you’ve not yet activated yours.



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