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The Importance of Hobbies

It’s been a long couple of months with Pitch Wars and NaNoWriMo and the query trenches eating my brain, and my stress levels are at the highest they’ve been in years while my sleep’s definitely at the lowest. I’m approaching burn out fast, and I realized recently that I’m going to have to come up with some decent coping skills or I’ll never stay sane in this business even after I achieve that elusive agent or even harder to catch book deal.

And guys – I really would like to stay sane.

I think part of my problem is the simple fact that once upon a time, I thought writing was just my hobby. It was my stress relief from the hell of college, then a crappy boyfriend, and finally the realities of life as an adult with a day job and more and more bills to pay each year. Adulting is HARD, y’all. It really is, and I feel for all of you out there in the adult world freaking out and looking for an adultier adult. I am so, so there. (Seriously, that was the MOST ACCURATE MEME EVER. So many kudos to whoever came up with it.)

In any case, writing was my escape from all of that – whether I was playing in the fanfiction realm or diving into new worlds of my own making, writing was a gateway to the simple joy of “this is something I know I can do” and “this won’t hurt me if I fail so it’s safe and just fun.”

Fast forward to my realization that writing is what I want to do professionally, and there was a definite shift in perspective that hit while I wasn’t looking.

Now that safe place to play and run amok suddenly has the capacity for failure. Or at least for “not succeeding as fast as I’d like.” I’m suddenly dealing with fighting my anxiety over the market for SFF and NA/YA, my envy at watching other author friends finding the agent or book deal I’d really love, and worst of all the dreaded writer’s block brought on by “will this book ever be good enough?”

My hobby has turned into an obligation, and I’m still figuring out how to deal with that.

I want to try to find some sort of balance between the joy of writing and the reality that this is something I have to work at. Pitch Wars was definitely a crash course in “sorry guys, I have a deadline,” and it’s one I’ll need to remind myself of once I do get an agent. The deadlines in my future are only going to get more fast and furious, and I can’t let them kill my momentum due to sheer fear at “but what if this sucks?”

The reality is, especially with first drafts, a good chunk of my writing is ALWAYS going to suck. Even the best words I ever put to the page are going to feel imperfect, especially when compared to some of my favorite authors. But, on the other hand, I now know that they had crappy drafts, too.

Still, it’s never going to get less stressful from here on out.

With that in mind, I’m trying to find new things just for fun, to feel like the hobby I’ve lost as writing becomes a job. Anything from joining a camping group out at our local renaissance festival with lessons in making my own garb from scratch (I’ve officially mastered the art of cutting out patterns and fabric – sort of? Next up: actually working with the sewing machine!) to jewelry making to podcasting with my writers group (though that, too, feels more and more like part of my overall writing work – the platform side of things this time) to finding live music venues to go to and or belly dance lessons.

Finding time for all of these in between writing sessions is still a challenge, but I’m starting to get the hang of it. Luckily, my man and non-writer friends are all well aware of the fact that I’m on a writing journey, so they tend to be cool about it when I have to give the “sorry I’m writing tonight” excuse to pass on an invitation.

I think long term, this is all going to get easier, or at least I hope so. Right now, I kind of feel like I’m teetering on the high beam from day to day instead of steady between all my various tasks. We’ll see how it turns out in the future. For now, I’m satisfied with what I’ve figured out. Ish?

How do you balance the writing hobby versus writing job mentalities? Any fun new hobbies you think I should pick up? Anything but knitting – trust me, you don’t want to see my attempts at knitting. It wasn’t pretty the last time LOL. Tweet me your thoughts and ideas @C_L_McCollum

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