Hobbies, Activities, and Creative Pursuits

How do you recharge your battery?

The TKZ textbook on creativity

For today’s post, I wanted to explore activities that writers use to ramp up creativity, refill the well of creativity, or “recharge our batteries.” I wanted to look specifically at the use of creative pursuits, hobbies, or interests, outside of writing, to accomplish that goal.

I had my rough draft done before I searched for previous posts on creativity done here at TKZ. I was amazed at how much had already been written.

If you click on the two links below, you will find a treasure trove of articles on creativity, a TKZ textbook on the subject.

https://killzoneblog.com/category/creativity

https://killzoneblog.com/tag/creativity

And here are the chapters:

  1. The Creative Energy of Crowds, JSB
  2. Evolution of a Book Title and Cover, Debbie Burke
  3. Don’t be Afraid to Go There in Your Writing, JSB
  4. The Importance of Creativity Time (mental calisthenics), JSB
  5. Use NaNoWriMo to Repo Your Mojo, JSB
  6. Less Focus for Better Writing (positive constructive daydreaming), JSB
  7. Chasing a New Idea, JSB
  8. Permission to Make a Mess, Laura Benedict
  9. It Came From…, Joe Hartlaub
  10. When Your Brainstorming Hits a Drought, JSB
  11. Inspiring Quotes from Inspiring Crime Thriller Writers, Garry Rodgers
  12. The World Needs Creatives More Than Ever, Sue Coletta
  13. When a Writing Break Turns into a New Novel, J.T. Ellison
  14. Are Only Humans Creative? 6 Ways Creativity Improves Health, Sue Coletta
  15. Writers and Dreaming, Sue Coletta
  16. Can Creativity Pass Through Generations via DNA, Sue Coletta
  17. Our Brain and Creativity, Sue Coletta
  18. Write that Caption! New Yorker Cartoon Contest, Kathryn Lilley
  19. The Power of the Shadow Story, JSB

I enjoyed reviewing the posts. I learned a lot. I considered changing my post to another topic, but I think we can sneak in a discussion on the topic under the guise of “activities, hobbies, and creative pursuits outside the realm of writing that increase our creativity for writing.”

Writing fiction is inherently an intense and consuming activity that requires a never-ending flow of creativity. It is the rare writer who can work for long periods of time without stopping to rekindle the fire, or refill the well from which that creativity flows.

In the posts listed above, there are many ways listed to improve creativity. A few of them include creative activities outside of writing. I know from reading responses to previous posts that many of you have such outside interests. We want to hear about them.

It is my opinion, that having and pursuing other creative interests is healthy, can give our brains a chance to shift gears, and can even inspire ideas for our writing.

 

So, Dear Writer, what do you think?

 

  • Do you believe that other creative activities can benefit your writing?
  • Do you need creative pursuits beyond writing to recharge your battery?
  • What hobbies, activities, or creative pursuits do you use and enjoy?
  • In what way does this hobby or activity improve your writing?
  • How passionate (crazy) are you about this hobby? Give us a little taste of your passion.
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48 thoughts on “Hobbies, Activities, and Creative Pursuits

  1. Good morning, Steve. Thanks so much for your post this morning, which I am definitely bookmarking. You obviously put a lot of heavy lifting into this. It beats shoveling snow, for sure.

    I used to collect comic books as a hobby. Alas, my collection became an accumulation. I also lost interest in the industry as a whole due to the editorial direction a number of the companies elected to take. When I was passionate about it I would occasionally attend conventions locally and even went full fanboy a couple of times and went out of town or out of state to do so. I would also go to comic book stores in whatever city I happened to be in for business or pleasure. Alas, no more. I deliberately try to stay out of comic book stores for the same reason that alcoholics stay out of bars. If you sit in the barber chair often enough you eventually get a haircut.

    Thanks again for a great post, Steve. Enjoy your weekend!

    • Good morning, Joe. Interesting hobby. Do you think that the comic books you read ever influenced your characters or plots in stories you wrote? And as for the “accumulation,” I supposed now, with everything digital, that many of those comic books are available as electronic files taking up no more space than digital space on a hard drive.

      Thanks for stopping by. Have a great weekend.

  2. Needlepoint used to be my creative outlet, until I ran out of room on my walls, so I took up writing instead. 🙂

    • Interesting association between the needlepoint and the writing. My wife loves to crotchet and knit. In the winter my office is too cold to work in, so I write in the family room while she sits beside me and knits or crotchets. She makes heavy footies slippers to keep the feet warm of all the family members when they come to visit. I’m afraid that her footies are more sought after than my books.

      Stay warm and have a good weekend.

  3. My hobby is traveling to interesting historical sites. My husband and I just returned from Savannah and I left inspired and energized. It’s a good start for 2021.

    2020 put a major cramp on my hobby. That’s when I decided to dive into family history. Not so much inspiration but I did learn a lot.

    Painting, creating adult coloring books, and making jewelry are also some hobbies I enjoy.

    Great ideas here!

    • Thanks for stopping by, Cindy. You certainly have some interesting hobbies. And it sounds like art is a large part of it. I’ve visited Savannah several times. My son did his college degree at The Savannah College of Art and Design. (He designs vacuum sweepers now.) Savannah is a beautiful place to visit.

      Family history is a great hobby to inspire our writing. I became interested about ten years ago. One of my relatives had worked out the family tree on both my mother and father’s side. My great (seven greats) grandmother on my mother’s side inspired a short story I wrote about five years ago.

      I hope your new interest in family history will inspire your art and your writing.

  4. Two things come to mind. I get outside for a dog walk. It’s cheap and easy and makes both the dog and me happy. The other thing I do is work on my cursive penmanship. Yes, that’s writing, but it’s not like typing at the computer. I’m learning how to make smooth S’s and sharp T’s. When the pen is moving across the paper, there’s a wave-like rhythm that reminds me of the surface of a lake, and I get lost swimming in the waters.

    • Wow, Priscilla, great hobbies. The exercise – we should all be doing that. You made me smile when you mentioned cursive penmanship. That’s something that I should work on, the only subject I could never get an A in. And, sadly, as a physician, I took pride in my poor penmanship. Now that I’m retired, it’s time to slow down and learn to write. I enjoy the feel of writing with a fountain pen. I even made them for awhile. I enjoy visiting some of the upper end fountain pen sites.

      What kind of a pen do you use for working on your cursive penmanship? Does the “getting lost swimming in the waters” inspire your writing?

      Thanks for sharing your hobbies.

      • Thanks for your kind words. I use a Pentel R.S.V.P. It’s a grab-n-go pen, no excuse about not having the time to fill a fountain pen. I confess, however, that I’d like to try a fountain pen!

        Yes, getting lost in the rhythm does inspire my writing because I more easily notice rhythms (or patterns) that my characters encounter and think of ways to describe those rhythms.

        • I wasn’t familiar with the Pentel RSVP. I’ll have to try it. I’ve recently become a fan of the Pilot G2 fine point for a grab and go pen. It has the feel of writing with a fountain pen.

          Have a good weekend and good luck with the cursive penmanship – a lost art.

  5. Steve, there are never enough ideas on creativity–glad you went ahead with this post.

    B/c writing is mentally intensive, my recharging comes from physical activities like zumba, walking, hiking, gardening. The balance between mental and physical is important to maintain for the overall health of both aspects. Just as you need to rest after a strenuous workout to let muscles recover, the brain needs similar down time.

    Every spring, preparing the soil in my vegetable patch and planting seeds leads to worse backaches and pains than the year before. After the first few days of hard work, when I can barely stand up straight, I ask why am I still doing this?

    Yet, once the seeds start sprouting, that question fades into the background. When I’m eating sweet baby peas off the vines and sharing fresh corn with friends and family, the muscle aches are forgotten….until next spring!

    • Thanks, Debbie, for your thoughts. And I agree whole-heartedly. The physical activities are so important. I make it my goal to do something physical every afternoon, and strenuous exercise five nights a week. The mindless physical activity is a great time to brainstorm.

      I don’t like gardening (my mother saw to that with all the forced labor hoeing when I was young), but I still cut firewood for our winter heat. So, my back aches fade away in the winter time when I’m enjoying a toasty-warm family room.

      Thanks for your thoughts on the balance between mental and physical activities.

  6. Good morning, Steve. You make a great point about the brain getting a chance to shift gears. For this I like games. I have a buddy I meet with once a week for a backgammon tournament. I play computer chess, and can keep up with it in the moderate setting.

    One hobby I really enjoy, but haven’t been doing a lot lately, is cartooning. I never thought I could draw, but some years ago I took an online cartoon course, and found it a lot of fun. I also found I could actually draw some decent cartoons, with practice. Well, duh! It was the same thing with my writing. After thinking for years I didn’t have what it took, I actually went out and studied the craft and got to be pretty good, I think.

    Thanks for the stimulus, Steve. I think I’ll draw some cartoons today.

    • Thanks, Jim, for all your posts on creativity, here at TKZ. I knew you would mention backgammon. And on chess, did you ever get a chance to check out the Netflix series on The Queen’s Gambit? I think the screen writers ticked off every chapter of your book, WRITING UNFORGETTABLE CHARACTERS. The only thing they got wrong was placement of the mirror moment. They had it late in the story.

      The drawing and cartooning is interesting. I spent a couple months a year ago trying to learn a little about drawing, but finally gave up. The book, “Drawing on the Write Side of the Brain” is interesting with its techniques and discussion of right brain – left brain theories.

      Good luck with the cartooning. There’s certainly plenty of material for disguised jabs with everything that is going on in the world right now.

  7. Outside of reading, which inspires me, I love nature walks, surrounded by wildlife. The winter months are more difficult due to the snow and cold, but if I brave the weather, I have a blast tracking animal prints in the snow.

    Thanks for the shout-outs, Steve! Hope you’re enjoying your weekend.

    • Thanks, Sue. Yes, nature walks. I never cease to be amazed at the design that is displayed in nature. And the continuous cycles of the seasons always brings new hope.

      With your interest in graphic design, I thought you might also be interested in photography. IMHO, there is nothing so beautiful as close-ups (macro photography) of springtime wild flowers. I’m certain you could apply filters and layers to create some dazzling results.

      Have a great weekend!

      • I do love photography! My phone is filled with landscapes (especially sunrises and sunsets) and animal photos. One of these days I’d love a “real” camera.

        • You deserve one. It’s a writing expense, seriously, if you use the images in cover design or in your work. When you get one, I’d love to see a post with images from macro photography. Spring is just around the corner. Let’s see, the topic – focusing on the details!

  8. For the “other creative activities,” I like to watch movies. And, of course, note the plot points! I also play drums in an old-geezer band, but that’s more about reliving my youth and getting in touch with my Inner Ringo. 😉

    For activities to improve my writing, I—like others—really like getting outside and moving around, both for exercise/fitness and for mind-clearing. I’ve created a hiking path around my small plot of land that I’m on every day when I’m not swimming. Swimming is my life-long physical activity of choice and a wonderful way to let “the boys in the basement” do their thing.

    • Thanks for your thoughts, Harald. You have many creative activities. I love music and used to sing in a group. There is certainly something about music that stirs the soul and inspires. And swimming is wonderful. If everyone swam, we’d have a much healthier population and a lot fewer joint replacements (and less sore backs).

      The idea of turning loose “the boys in the basement” while doing physical activity is great. It works for me.

      Thanks for your thoughts. Keep on swimming.

  9. Great post, Steve! I enjoyed reading about all y’all’s non-writing pursuits.

    I like to walk with the man and the German Shepherd. Every day, about 2 miles.

    But what I really like to do, usually once a week or so, is go to the indoor gun range we belong to and shoot at targets. I’ve been a shooter for years. Used to compete combat-style with handguns, and with high-powered rifles at steel targets, some at 500 yards. Great fun!

    The takeaway for me is the discipline required to hit the bullseye with a good group is a lot like narrowing my focus to the guts of my story. Every moving part of shooting at a target, such as breathing, stance, slow trigger-pull, etc., feeds into the success of a small group.

    Writing a story, getting all those moving parts to go in the same direction, takes the same kind of focus and concentration.

    • Thanks, Deb. I’m impressed. Your background interests and hobbies never cease to amaze. I can see the correlation between the discipline of shooting and the discipline of writing. And I bet that your intimate knowledge of handling guns gives you some great insight into the details of your gun scenes in your writing.

      I think it’s time to get out the .22 and start working with the grandkids on target practice.

  10. Happy, Saturday, Steve! Terrific post and a handy list of KZB posts on this topic.

    In my own experience, hobbies are vital, not only to recharge my creativity batteries, but to enrich my life, and provide balance between “work” and “play” (writing when it’s really going well, is very much play, but, in the end, is still work 🙂

    I have a number of hobbies. Gaming is one of my two oldest hobbies, especially board gaming. I play Euro games, card games, especially a “deck builder” called Dominion, and war games, beginning when I was a teen. I can set up a small game, say on a WW2 battle, on a TV tray and play the game solo while we’re watching a movie or TV show. For a couple of years, pre-pandemic, I was in a twice-monthly playtest group for new game designs–mostly family and simple games, but also some table top roleplaying games. I’ve played Dungeons and Dragons also since I was a teen, and my wife and I are currently in an online D&D game, and also in a Star Wars campaign (the latest in a line of Star Wars campaigns we’ve been in).

    Role-playing can help with writing because it can emphasize improvisation. I’ve been a game master for many years and tend to lean heavily on improv, usually in reaction to what my players are doing, rather than having created a heavily scripted adventure. I’m more of an outliner in my writing than in my game mastering, but the later reminds me to be more willing to “discover” plot points and story elements while writing, rather than trying to plan it all out in advance.

    I’ve also been into amateur astronomy since I was young, but drifted away from it when I reached my thirties. Last summer, observing Comet NEOWISE rekindled that passion, and I’ve made time, even just for a few minutes, to go outside with binoculars, or a telescope, to view a few of the night sky’s wonders. I’m not trying to do science, like I did in my 20s, but rather, simply appreciate the beauty and wonder of the cosmos. It’s almost mediative, much like the yoga we practice several times a week, or a flow state, like writing or Zumba, which we also do.

    Physical exercise is also vital–you could say that’s a hobby for me, but it’s also a necessity.

    Thanks for another thought-provoking post!

    • Wow, Dale. I’m blown away. How do you find time for all of that?

      Your gaming and role-playing hobbies reminded me of a middle-aged man I met in the past who was into WWI dogfight recreations. He had set up a virtual cockpit in his “game room” where he “flew” his plane and participated with a larger group that competed over Europe.

      All those games and role-playing must certainly increase your agility and creativity. Very interesting.

      Have a great weekend!

      • Thanks, Steve! The nice thing about my hobbies is that they can be adjusted to fit the time available. Each of our two roleplaying “campaigns” takes place every other week, one on a Monday night for a couple of hours, the other on a Saturday afternoon for three or four. My other gaming might be an hour or two here or three. Stargazing can be five minutes or a couple of hours. Of course, here in Oregon, clear skies are a rarity in wintertime 🙂

        That man you met who was into WWI dogfight recreations reminded me that my wife and I used to regularly play a miniatures game on the same topic, Wings of Glory, which met at a sports bar on Sunday afternoons, and also at our local game store. I’m guessing his recreations were more elaborate than ours, but we certainly had fun 🙂

  11. Walking is my Zen, Steve. I live downtown on the Pacific waterfront where we have a wonderful seawall and a horde of boat-filled docks. I’m between boats right now, but I have my eye out everyday for the next right fit. Boating is another total relax – something about the sea that’s calming (as long as it is; if it isn’t, I stay off). It’s when the mind slows down on a hike or a trip that my batteries charge and the inspiration rises. Enjoy your weekend and thanks for the links!

    • Thanks, Garry. Ah, yes, the ocean. Having lived my life inland, I don’t have much exposure to the coast, but vacations to the beach have always made me think there is nothing more peaceful (as long as it’s calm) as the sea. You’re fortunate to have that exposure to the Pacific. I can see how walking and boating would truly recharge the batteries.

      Good luck with finding the perfect boat. If your boat is writing research related, wouldn’t that be a tax write off? Just saying.

  12. When I was writing, funsies were a matter of time issues and necessity. So, gardening because I had to but I experimented with heirloom seeds and learned organic gardening. Learning new stuff has always been one of my favorite things. Mowing for an entire afternoon was zen time with some added terror at mowing slopes the tractor could roll on if I weren’t careful. Of course, reading for fun was a rare treat. The best thing, though, was going to the gym. On the way, back in ancient times when the publishing industry was all snail mail, I would pick up my PO box mail, and, if I received a rejection or it was yet another day of no replies on a manuscript after months of waiting, I would start working out angry, get past it, and figure out what I would do next before I finished my entire Nautilus rotation. Plus, weights were the way I kept my damaged back healthy enough to be able to sit at the computer for hours.

    • Great ideas, Marilynn. I can see you working out with a punching bag, the picture of the editor du jour taped on the bag until he/she has been appropriately punished.

      After so many post about turning the brain loose to solve problems during exercise, I wonder if “the boys in the basement” (my wife prefers “the girls in the attic”) don’t work just as well during exercise as sleep.

      I hope you have a roll bar on your tractor.

      Thanks for all your ideas and comments. Have a great weekend!

  13. The main hobbies I routinely bounce between are reading, oil painting, and cover designs. Those are the big three. I also do some photography, which blends in with my art, which pairs well with travel. I also sewing and bake, but not with the frequency as the other three.

    My husband and I enjoy movies and taking long walks around our home in a rural/canyon/river area. Lots of wildlife, ponds, creeks, and high canyon walls and the river – the Snake River in Idaho.

    Lots to keep me busy and creative.

    I’ve had requests to turn my art and my cover designs into professional endeavors, but once you start charging for a service, the pressure can get intense. I’ve been down that road, and do not care to repeat it. Instead, I gift cover designs and paintings to friends and family, which I can do at my leisure. That leaves me the freedom to devote to my writing without other obligations putting it on the back burner.

  14. Thanks for your comments, Cecilia. It’s good to hear about painting and cover design. Your art work and photography on your website are beautiful. I loved the tiger. I could see how that kind of talent would inspire creating other things, including books.

    My father grew up on the Snake River in Idaho, many years ago (early 1940s). He told of sturgeon fishing with a 1/2″ rope, rolling boulders down the canyon, and all kinds of other mischief. I don’t think he was looking for exercise.

    Thanks for sharing your creative endeavors. If you ever decide to market your artwork and cover design, be sure to let us know here at TKZ.

    • Thank you, Steve, for your kind words about my art and photography, (and for even bothering to look!)

      I can visulize the mischief you father indulged in, and I agree, I doubt it was for the excercise too. One of the amazing things we watch during some of our tailgate picnics near the canyon, are the paragliders jumping from the Perrine Bridge in Twin Falls. It’s almost a 500 ft drop, so they get plenty of hang time. Fun to watch.

  15. It may not be considered creative, but I love studying U.S. History of the 19th century and very early 20th, and it always has bearing on my writing.

    I do not currently practice because I live in an apartment (and apartment complexes are NOT built for noise insulation therefore I would be arrested. LOL!) but I can’t wait till the day comes I can learn to play bluegrass banjo, which brings creative flow. And I love good classic country music and the best music is about story-telling, so even when I’m listening to music, it is still about writing.

    I don’t do it anywhere near enough, but enjoy drawing and painting, which is also a way of telling stories visually.

    And other things, like blacksmithing, woodworking, or leather work may not directly feed into ideas for stories, but it can help you fill in those kind of details if you have a character working in or using those abilities.

    Just about everything we tackle can relate back to our writing if we allow our minds to explore.

    • Thanks for sharing, BK. I would agree that studying history is pertinent to our writing. Music, drawing, and painting are certainly creative pursuits. And if you have also studied blacksmithing, woodworking, and leather work, I am impressed. It is healthy to be constantly learning new skills. You have certainly taken on a wide swath of interests.

      Have a great weekend!

  16. Although it isn’t creative in itself, running is my way to energize my creativity. If I’m outside, I’ll be listening to a book or podcast on my ipod. If I’m on the treadmill, I’ll be watching a movie or series. (The Lupin series that Joe Hartlaub recommended a week or so ago was awesome.) Sometimes I zone out as I think of ways to incorporate what I’m hearing or seeing into my own stories. I never cease to walk away with a new idea or two.

    I have read that aerobic exercise stimulates the creative center of the brain. Steve, you would know more about that than I do, but my experience says that’s true.

    • Thanks for stopping by, Kay. My wife and I just finished watching a couple episodes of the Lupin series. It is amazing.

      I agree with your take on aerobic exercise. I haven’t studied the neurological research, so you know as much about the academic studies as I do. But it makes sense. Aerobic exercise affects the brain in the same way as brain stimulants – increased adrenaline, increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, increased cardiac output. And that effect helps us remember as well as improve creativity.

      So keep on exercising. You’ll be healthier as well as more productive.

      Have a great weekend!

  17. Water aerobics and Pilates are my two exercises…and walking when the knee permits it. But taking a ball of clay and throwing it on the wheel and see what I can pull up is my way of getting lost in something. And I like hand-building and making jewelry as well. Unfortunately, working in the clay isn’t something I get to do much of any longer…

    • Hi, Patricia. Sorry I missed you post last night.

      I’ve always thought pottery would be a wonderful creative pursuit. I’ve read about it. I’ve visited studios and exhibits, but never taken the plunge. I guess I’ve spread myself too thin already. I do woodturning, and always thought that combining art forms would be exciting. Plus, I like that pottery allows you to start over. With turning, when the wood is gone, it’s gone.

      Good to hear that you are exercising. Hope you find time to get back into the ceramics.

      Have a great weekend!

      • Steve, I took pottery lessons thinking I would write a potter character…the teacher said I wasn’t his best student, but I was his most determined. lol

        Before I started writing full time, I worked in the abstinence program and used it to show how you could reclaim the clay and start over if you messed up. I was really good at messing up the clay. lol I never threw big pieces, although I did throw a really big bowl once, maybe ten pounds of clay.

        • Wow, ten pounds of clay. That’s a lot.
          I actually did write a character as a potter. Before I started on my current middle-grade fantasy series, I was working on a thriller series, with a wounded warrior. He spends a year in Colombia recuperating before he returns home to look for the special ops who thought they had killed him. Part of his “therapy” in Colombia is learning the potter trade from a Colombian Indian.
          Some day I’ll return to that story.
          I hope you have a chance to get back into the pottery. Good luck with your writing.

  18. Hobbies are definitely needed to recharge the creative batteries. My main hobby is Blacksmithing. Yes, coal fired forge, bellows, anvil, hammer. Been doing it for 15+ years. Oddly enough the interest came about after reading a novel with a blacksmith as the protagonist. Luckily there was a group nearby, AND they offered classes. So now I also teach there and also coming full circle, I edit and contribute to the bi-monthly newsletter. Reading leads to Blacksmithing leads back to writing.

    • Thanks for stopping by, Robert. I’m impressed with the blacksmithing. That’s quite a hobby, and quite strenuous. It’s great that you can use your writing to help your blacksmithing group.

      Good luck with your writing.

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