Reader Friday: Alternate Creative Outlets

Attrib: Alexandr Ivanov, Pixabay

If you had to give up writing for a solid year, through what other medium would you release your creativity?

Why did you choose that creative outlet?

Are you active in it now?

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About Sue Coletta

Sue Coletta is an award-winning crime writer and an active member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. Feedspot and named her Murder Blog as β€œBest 100 Crime Blogs on the Net.” She also blogs at the Kill Zone (Writer's Digest "101 Best Websites for Writers") and Writers Helping Writers. Sue lives with her husband in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire and writes two psychological thriller series, Mayhem Series and Grafton County Series (Tirgearr Publishing) and is the true crime/narrative nonfiction author of PRETTY EVIL NEW ENGLAND: True Stories of Violent Vixens and Murderous Matriarchs (Rowman & Littlefield Group). Currently on submission, her latest true crime project revolves around a grisly local homicide. For the spring 2022 semester, Sue will be teaching a virtual course about serial killers at EdAdvance in CT and a condensed version for the Central Virginia Chapter and National Sisters In Crime. Equally fun was when she appeared on the Emmy award-winning true crime series, Storm of Suspicion. Learn more about Sue and her books at

43 thoughts on “Reader Friday: Alternate Creative Outlets

  1. Happy Friday, Sue! Great question…the answer is…songwriting! And yes, I am active in it right now. I am finding it to be by turns easier and more difficult than prose writing.

    Have a great Memorial Day weekend!

  2. I’d probably go back to what led me to writing in the first place–running out of room for needlepoint, but different house now, more walls. Or maybe I’d go back to knitting now that I don’t live in Florida and there’s actually a reason to have sweaters, scarves, and the like.

  3. I think I’d “fall back” to sketching and watercolor painting – though I do try to keep somewhat active in both… I’ve been drawn to the former (sorry… but pun intended), and the latter came later in college as part of my architecture education… not as proficient as I’d like to be, but the differing hand-eye coordination between them is as challenging and relaxing and rewarding (and, at times, frustrating), as I find writing can be…

    Plus they’re both something that can be done “quickly,” subtly, almost anywhere, and with minimal set-up/clean-up…

    • All I can draw are cartoon animals (my Snoopy & Woodstock are a big hit with the grandkids), but I would love to try to sketch something more realistic. Watercolors sounds fun, George!

  4. Pottery and knitting. I was a knitter long before I started writing, even designing my own sweaters. And I took pottery classes for a character in one of my books. Working with clay gets in your blood. Lol a lot like writing.

  5. Cartooning. I used to think i had no talent for it, and maybe that’s still true. But over the last few years I’ve given it a try with the help of a couple of books and found I can get better at it if I practice. Hey, just like writing!

  6. It’s those other creative outlets that keep me from writing more. ?
    I can lose myself for hours doing graphic design, both by computer and by hand. Songs pop into my head almost as frequently as stories. Photography, landscape design. But if I I couldn’t sit down to write, the stories would still be there. The characters talk to me all day and a good part of the night, even while I’m doing other things. Always have and always will.

  7. Wood turning – making pens, platters, bowls (round things) on a lathe. I started after studying woodworking for many years, then discovered that turning is the most creative area of wood working. Flat woodworking is boring.

    I’m still doing some turning, but life has been pretty hectic for the last couple years. My shop is set up, and I’ll get back to it when things settle down.

    • I’d love to do woodcarving. Like unfinished leather, the smell of wood as you’re working it is awesome too!

  8. Oh my! So many creative things to do–one of the reasons it takes forever to finish stories. And fortunately/unfortunately, I could never choose a single creative medium.

    I mean think about it–even in writing, there are millions of choices. Not just fiction or non-fiction, but millions of options in those two categories.

    Then if you choose visual art, there are a million options. Take painting–acrylic, watercolor, oil (haven’t tried oil yet). Drawing–charcoal (fun to draw with), colored pencil, regular pencil). Then there’s things like quilling (haven’t tried that yet) and more.

    I also love tooling leather. Love the smell of unfinished leather, it’s fun to tool leather (not to mention a stress reliever).

    And while some may not count it as creativity, learning to play banjo is creative (trust me, as lacking as I am in natural ability, I’ve got to get creative to learn it! LOL!) though I currently don’t practice because I have no means to play without being arrested, living in an apartment complex with thin walls.

    We are blessed with a bazillion creative outlets to choose from!

    • Wow, Brenda! You’re a creative machine!

      So many choices is right. I read an article a while back about Steve Jobs. The reason he always wore a black turtleneck was to cut down on choices. Science has proven that our brains are overloaded with choices, from what to wear to more complicated choices like we make in our careers. To lessen the overload, he kept his routine as simple as possible.

      After I read the article, I implemented the same thing in my daily routine. I may not look like a supermodel, wearing my usual black T-shirt and lounge pants (like Jobs I bought several), but it’s one less choice I have to make. I also eat the same thing for breakfast and lunch every day. I’m a creature of habit anyway, so it works for me. πŸ˜€

  9. Photography – particularly nature and wildlife.
    It rewards awareness and, like the lens, involves focusing in detail on wondrous places, light, life, and beauty.
    The process is intellect-engaging, sensory enhancing, and increases my appreciation of the world.

    • Love nature and wildlife photographs, Tom! It’s a field I would love to explore if I had more time. I bet your photos are beautiful. πŸ™‚

  10. Hi Sue! Great question.

    I would take up game design. I’m a life-long board gamer and tabletop role-player, and I’d finally create a boardgame, probably something mystery themed. I was in a biweekly play-test group at my friendly local game store, and enjoyed giving feedback on other people’s designs, but the pandemic ended that.

    • Hey, Dale! Funny you mention boardgames. During the early days of the pandemic, a few families in NH created boardgames that they turned into new businesses. All thriving businesses now. It’s not an easy thing to do, but oh, so, creative. πŸ™‚

  11. I love so many creative outlets, the question is, what materials do I have access to at the moment. I certainly don’t have a wheel or clay to do pottery, though I loved doing it in middle school.

    I guess I’d spend more time playing the piano and learning the guitar, both of which I have. And baking. I just bought a baking book, and so far, everything I’ve tried from it has been absolutely delicious.

    • Fabulous, AZAli! I love to bake, too. There’s something magical about the sound of a piano. I played for years, and miss striking the ol’ ivories.

  12. You eat the same thing for breakfast and lunch every day? Very Jobs-like, I’d say. Does it include apples? Your question fits with what Rita and I were talking about yesterday – what my next life adventure will be. I’ve always been “creative”. My resume looks like I’m widely experienced (or couldn’t keep a f’n job). Flying is on the bucket list. It’s not “creative” as such but it’s, to me, adventuresome. Some day….

    • Haha. Yep. Two granola bars for breakfast, a smoothie for lunch. No apples but the smoothie is packed full of other fruit: peaches, pineapple, black berries, blueberries, banana…

      Flying? That makes sense, actually. Didn’t you puddle hop when you worked at the whale watching place?

  13. I would have a 4-6 person brunch or dinner party once a week. I love planning the menus, setting an interesting table, cooking and baking, and socializing over food.

    • Once a week? Gosh, that sounds dreadful to me. I love hosting for the holidays and the occasional summer barbecue, but that’s where my hospitality ends. LOL I bet you plan a fabulous dinner party, TL. I’d love to be a guest. πŸ™‚

  14. I was originally a music performance major. Today is my first day of vacation (!) and it occurs to me I haven’t touched my piano, flute, or violin in forever. (I do still sing in the church choir). I need to fix that.

    Theatre is my other love. Orlando Fringe is underway. It’s bittersweet. I definitely miss performing and the applause and camaraderie. I don’t necessarily miss the hours at rehearsal, hours learning lines, especially since I’m still working full time. I look back at the 18-hour days I did for years and wonder if I really want to go back to that, knowing if someone sends me the right script I will.

    I’ve started drawing in my planner again, mostly unrecognizable animals but it’s fun.

  15. I would just spend more time on the other creative activities I already do on top of writing… playing in my old-geezer band (classic rock)… creating more outdoor projects (am currently finishing up a new portico over my front door)… designing that miniature golf course for my front yard. The list is endless. πŸ™‚

  16. So many impressive talents, here!

    I used to carve Celtic knots and make furniture. I have 2 patents for puzzles. But I’ve also written songs. I have an IMDb page. Maybe take singing lessons, or give lectures. I’ve done all my own book covers, so far, and another for a friend a day ago, So: (1) Book covers (2) Lectures & Acting; (3) Puzzles.

  17. I’d probably add back in somethings I gave up when life got too busy. I still do my oil painting, but I used to bake and decorate cakes, sew all my clothes and coats (including my wedding dress), garden, and dance: ballet, tap, modern dance, country swing, and the traditional Hawaiian hula. I’d love to try ballroom dancing if I could talk my husband into it.

    • Wow, Cecilia! I haven’t done cake decorating in decades, but I used to love it. Yes to dance! I’ve been trying to get my husband to take ballroom dance lessons for years. πŸ˜€

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