When I was ten years old—just a nerdy girl in middle school—a substitute teacher came to cover another teacher who was on maternity leave and declared that she’d be teaching a creative writing class for a few weeks. I’d never done any sort of writing before, beyond homework and letters to distant family members, and the thought intrigued me. I jumped into it, fueled by the desire to create stories, and I’ve prided myself on being a writer ever since.
As with everything, mastering writing or any other beloved hobby doesn’t happen overnight. It requires practice and dedication, and a drive to succeed above all cost.
And as a writer, I fall short of that knowledge every day.
There is a sense of guilt and failure that comes with missing a day, or even a week, of practice. In my case, I’ve always held that I should follow the holy Writer’s Handbook* that says, on page 25 after clause 2 of the Writer’s of Words Act, that a writer ought to practice writing every day. Write 25 words or 2,000 words. Write whatever you can, just write something. If you cultivate your hobby daily, you’ll keep your creative juices flowing. You won’t get rusty.
I agree with all of this, of course. As a writer, I really should practice writing every day. It’s in my best interest to keep writing, keep producing words and ideas, so that when the moment comes that I can work on it in large chunks, I won’t be left wordless.
But you know what? I fail at this. I fail as a writer.
Writing, or really practicing anything creative, on a daily basis is a lot of work. You have to carve out the time to write from your busy schedule. And sometimes, you know, that’s just hard. Sometimes I’m too busy (like right now with school) to spend an hour with my butt glued to the chair. Sometimes I do have time, but the words don’t come because I’m too distracted thinking about all the things I could and should be doing instead, like washing the laundry or weeding the garden. Sometimes, even, I’m just too damn lazy to lift my hands and put my brain to the page.
So I fail. I’m a bad writer. But I have a feeling that everyone whose ever had a hobby can relate to these feelings.
For all those who have a hobby they love, but feel ashamed that they don’t have enough time to dedicate to it … don’t!
Dry spells are a part of life. On occasion, life gives you plenty of time to work on the things you enjoy, but most of the time it doesn’t. Instead of giving in and saying “okay life, you win, I give up,” fight back. Find ways to cultivate your hobby and revel in its enjoyment even when life is packed to the brim and about to burst.
Do you love your hobby? Do you enjoy the process of creating something? Do you associate yourself with the hobby, calling yourself a writer, an artist, a knitter, a singer, a designer, a photographer?
I’ve found throughout the last thirteen years, since the moment I started writing, that I love what I do. And since I love it, I feel motivated to find time to do it. Even if it takes a while, and even if I’m in a dry spell, there will come a day when the urge hits and I’ll sit down and do what I love because it’s in my blood.
Sometimes you have to make sacrifices for your hobby to find time, like cutting out that weekly episode of Game of Thrones or declining an invitation out to a bar on a Saturday night. Other times you won’t feel like working on it, but you’ll do it anyway because you know it’s rewarding … and most of the time you’ll enjoy the process once you just get over that wall and get rolling.
Hobbies are messy. They’re never perfect, they’re always trouble, and they’re incredibly time consuming. But I believe there’s nothing more exciting and precious in life than those moments when you lose yourself in the thing you love and create something new from doing it.
If you’re currently blocked, start with something small. A brand new paragraph, a couple snapped photos to put on Instagram, a cute, 20 second ditty.
Just get to the point where you start cultivating your hobbies! The rest will follow.
*This doesn’t exist. I made it up.