I am a big fan of hobbies.
Yes, I have some hobbies of my own, some of which will feature in this excellent list of ways to improve your writing. But I am not just a fan of my own hobbies I think ALL HOBBIES ARE GREAT!
Hobbies Are Good For You!
Yes. It’s true and it doesn’t just have to be the healthy, exercising sort. Although, of course, your chosen hobby is also a form of exercise then that is fantastic and will be doubly good for you. But any hobby is good for you.
- Having a hobby helps you to practice mindfulness or ‘living in the moment’. By focusing on whatever it is that is your hobby can shut out all the noise and babble in your mind. This can help reduce stress levels, reduce the risk of depression, and help manage existing depression and anxiety. This is not just ‘new age’ nonsense, or hippy-dippy poppycock but is based on scientific research and is backed by health professionals the world over including our very own NHS. Some hobbies are renowned for helping us practice mindfulness; yoga, meditation, and t’ai chi for example. But, the fact is that anything which absorbs your attention completely does the trick; yes even some videogames.
- Hobbies not only reduce the bad kind of stress but increase our levels of ‘good stress’. Now, if you have never heard of ‘good stress’ before you mind be wondering what on earth I am talking about but bear with me. Eustress or positive stress is felt when we push ourselves out of our comfort zone, learn something new, or achieve something. Are you one of those people who say ‘I work best under pressure’? Do you get a thrill from meeting a tricky deadline? Do you challenge yourself with physical feats; taking part in long distance races, muddy runs or compete in other sports? Maybe you get a buzz from performing music, drama or poetry in public. Perhaps you are a globe-trotter who enjoys putting yourself in unfamilar places, navigating unfamilar customs and languages. These things all might make us nervous, worried and yes…stressed. But it is positive stress, it leads to feelings of accomplishment, of winning and success. Any hobby, whether it is any of those I have mentioned or something more low-key help us experience more Eustress.
- Practising a hobby will give you MORE TIME. Yes, you read that right. It sounds ludicrous but have you ever heard of Parkinsons Law? This is the observation made by Cyril Parkinson in the 1950’s that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”. Now, have you ever rushed through a piece of work because there is something more fun to do? (Pub on a Friday anyone?) Ever done the washing up, hoovering, cleaned the bathroom, changed the bed at record speed because your new boyfriend/girlfriend just said they were on their way over? Suddenly, the idea of a hobby creating more time doesn’t sound so ludicrous does it! It is more about making sure that your hobby is one that you want to do so much that it will increase your productivity.
So, now I have convinced you why hobbies are good for you and do you know what…
A healthier, happier you is already going to be a better writer.
Now I’m going to bedazzle you with which hobbies have got what it takes to give you what it take your writing to the next level.
5 Hobbies That Will Make You Improve Your Writing
No, I am not going to tell you to spend every waking second studying SEO, marketing psychology and reading the dictionary as well as every writers blog under the sun to level-up your writing. This probably would help you, but it would probably not fit the criteria of ‘hobby’ insomuch as it would not give you the benefits I mentioned above, and it would not be anywhere near as exciting.
These 5 hobbies are surprising ways to improve your writing, rather than obvious ways you can become a better writer.
- Walking – yes good old walking. Walking is great exercise, gives you fresh air, and helps you sleep better. I’m assuming, and to be frank; hoping that you know that already. But, putting one foot in front of the other is also an excellent way to boost your creativity. As Mad-Eye Moody, in JK Rowling’s Goblet of Fire, says there’s ‘[n]othing like a nighttime stroll to give you ideas’. Creativity, writing, and walking have long been associated. From Aristotle who would famously walk while lecturing his students, to Wordsworth who ‘Wandered Lonely as a Cloud’, and Henry David Thoreau who noted that “Me thinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow”. If you want to deep dive into the subject I recommend Merlin Coverley’s The Art of Wandering: The Writer as Walker; an exploration of this ‘literary tradition encompassing philosophy and poetry, the novel and the manifesto’. Walking brings this magic into your creative mind and your writing in many ways. Yes, for many it is the greenery, the being amongst nature that will improve your cognitive function (I’ll get back to this later) and, it follows, makes you a better writer. But it is also the act of walking itself that gets ideas flowing. For writers specifically though it is also the experiences and observations while we are out walking that might trigger a latent story that might provide THE IDEA that you’ve been waiting for. Maybe Stephen King (my go-to for what I think are some of the best quotes about writing btw) was walking down the street one day, saw a storm drain, and BAM, ‘It‘ was born. Perhaps you’ll see a dropped child’s toy, a friendly (or not so friendly) dog, or have a chat with someone who might turn out to be a muse in disguise. Who knows where that next novel, short story, or stroke of marketing genius will come from. But, the chances are, if you’re experiencing writers’ block or need to inject a new spark into your creative writing, copy, or content, then you are more likely to find it by taking a walk than by continuing to stare at your computer screen.
- Gardening – I told you I’d get back to the ‘greenery as inspiration’ idea. I want to start by making it clear that you don’t need a garden to be a gardener. Yes, you can do more with an outside space but you can tend indoor plants, or window boxes to achieve the same end. In this case, to improve your writing and increase your productivity as a writer. Studies show that being able to see plants can increase productivity, even if they are indoor plants or if you can see them from your window. Research also points to nature as having a positive effect on the first two stages of the Creative Process; Preparation and Incubation.
- Yoga – You don’t need me to tell you that practicing Yoga is for you. You might need me to tell you just how good it is for you though. The obvious physical benefits include increased flexibility, muscle tone and strength, and weight loss. Less obvious benefits better heart health, increased blood flow, healthier bones, and it lowers your cortisol levels – the stress hormone which can put added strain on your body through being on constant ‘alert’. This along with the other benefits I mentioned boosts your immune system. Yoga, in improving core strength and spine flexibility, helps with back and shoulder pain that nearly all writers suffer from at times. Of course, sometimes that tension is caused by stress and, yup, Yoga is good for that too. As well as being good for our physical and mental health, studies have shown that Yoga also boosts concentration, memory and can even improve your IQ. As writers we also, especially when starting out, sometimes suffer from fear of being inadeqaute, we get imposter syndrome and can lack self belief. Yoga is beneficial for self-esteem as well and even more so if you can engage with a teacher who can give you a boost. For myself and nearly ten million others, Yoga with Adrienne is my go-to. Subscribing to her youtube channel was a game-changer for me. This warm, welcoming, and wonderful lady has even done a Yoga class for Writers.
- Watching Netflix – first of all. You’re Welcome! Yes, this may sound like it goes against everything you know but the fact is that watching quality programs and films can provide you with many of the required skills to be a good writer in the same way that reading does. It can aid you with plot and character development, how to build tension, the importance of settings, and other technical aspects of writing. Even if your writing is on the informative side of the creative scale you still need to be able to keep people reading. Keeping up to date with what everyone else is watching on N,etflix is also a good way to keep your content and marketing relevant, to help you spot trends and fashions and use them in your content, copy, or creative writing. This will not perhaps make you a better writer but it will make you a better-paid writer. For example, The Queen’s Gambit, based on the novel by Walter Tevis, which aired in October 2020 has dramatically increased sales of chess boards, chess books and timers. According to Google Trends, the increase in ‘Chess’ and related search terms had leaped by 70% from October to the end of November, coinciding with the shows release and record-breaking viewing figures. Jump on those Netflix bandwagons and get your reader numbers up! This leads me rather neatly to my fifth and final hobby to improve your writing.
- Chess – you might not immediately associate chess with helping you to progress in your writing business. However, multiple studies have shown that playing chess can increase cognitive function, self-esteem, organisational skills, problem-solving abilities, and creativity including an increase in imagination. Suddenly sounds like the perfect hobby for all writers and entrepreneurs doesn’t it.