Tag Archives: Hobbies

Hobbies: Only by Imperial Decree

Hobbies, those interests to pursue without it being a “side gig” and often without the need to be at all expert at them, were something I started focusing on, ironically, in the Before Times. I believed (and still believe), it’s very healthy to have some pursuit that is not monetized, potentially not judged and evaluated like job performance might, and perhaps free of some of the wacky things outside of your control that one can’t avoid in their ducat-earning occupations.

(This is one of the reasons I strongly advocate actors, who by and large depend on others to hire them to act, cultivate pursuits that are not dependent on someone else’s approval.)

I’ve also mused that overall life satisfaction depends on a combination of hobbies and the aforementioned ducat-earning occupations, as no one thing is going to do it all. (This is connected to the concept of ‘ikigai’).

These were some of the thoughts I had when reading Anne Helen Petersen’s piece on hobbies on her “Culture Study” site.

It sadly doesn’t surprise me that people have to work harder to carve out time for hobbies and that being able to do so is almost a form of luxury. The nature of the hobbies too, being demanding in such a way so that the time must be yielded, also scratches my anthropological curiosity. However, I can’t say it seems like a good thing, a notion that I had from the Before Times and feels even more relevant now.

Toilings of Comfort and Joy

I began this year advocating creating art as a hobby and I tried to practice what I preached shortly thereafter.

Most people who know me generally observe I’m pretty darn busy which is one of the reasons that I feel the need to carve out time that is entirely not productive.

Woodcarving Santa
Beyond my skillset, for now…
(via Woodcarving Illustrated, where you might beat me to learning how to carve this thing).

It’s hard in today’s “make every job a gig and make every gig a hustle” economy — and heaven help you if you want to do something creative for money yet want to do something else creative as a hobby — but I’ve become convinced carving out time for non-productive hobbies is a must.

So I enjoyed reading this piece by Hope Reese in Vox about tips for picking a hobby. I especially liked how to avoid some philosophical traps in the choice of hobby. And, yes, I’m writing this while staring at a screen and you’re almost certainly reading it on a screen, but I really like the idea of taking these hobbies and pastimes analog and offline wherever possible.

One great example of going analog is Inktober, a month-long exercise in drawing every day based on prompts. I’ve done this with my kids for a couple of years and we really got into this year (one of my kids was very into drawing and then coloring, which added a whole new delightful aspect to the activity). In fact, I went so far as to post my drawings to friends on Facebook (analog back to digital).

I was inspired to share in part because a college friend was sharing their Inktober drawings (and they draw hands far better than I). This included all the days, including the drawings which were really bad. But that was, I hope, encouragement to others to try their own hand at Inktober or something similar. Per Reese’s article above, doing something where you’re not going to excel or have an expectation to monetize it is ideal.

As I mentioned in my “Get Creative… Off the Clock” post, Molly Conway has a great article about how turning hobbies into hustles is a trap. Heed the warnings. Don’t do it. At the beginning of 2018, I was also in this reflective frame of mind, especially with the notion of “Ikigai.” That might be worth a second look as well. There’s a lot there about “dayjobs” and purpose and percentages (plus one sweet, sweet Venn diagram — and who doesn’t like Venn diagrams?).

Get Creative… Off the Clock

I had the opportunity over Presidents’ Day weekend (aka Washington’s Birthday weekend for OPM sticklers) to do something I can’t remember doing in a long time, if ever: painting miniatures.

The minis are from a game called Stuffed Fables, in case you’re wondering.

Many of my gamer friends have various Warhammer and related armies and I know my efforts are not remotely in their league. They paint minis regularly. In fact, for several, it’s a bona fide hobby. One preditor friend (that’s producer-editor for the uninitiated) has taken to painting miniatures quite expertly since directing a feature where D&D plays a central role. All but a handful of the denizens in her miniature army are used in D&D games: it’s mainly about the painting. In other words, the journey, the act of painting, is the joy. And that’s what I found here. I mean, I’m really hopeful we have plenty of fun with the game, but just the painting was a lot of fun and relaxing — even as I obsessed about details (though as you can see from the picture, not too much).

In part, it’s nice to be practicing what I’ve blog-preached in terms of being creative while not being expert at such things. It was very liberating to be working on something that doesn’t have to be yet another side hustle destined for some marketplace or part of “my brand” (as I mused about last January — I guess I get reflective about such things this time of year).

It’s good to have the opportunity to obsess about something that isn’t going to be a payday. Hey, this whole blog post comes after reading an article in the Harvard Business Review that mentions hobbies are good for jobs. Time off is good. Time off doesn’t mean you’re comatose or asleep. The brain gets to do things. As Richard Jeffries talks about regarding “care and feeding of a writer,” hobbies allows your brain time off from the monetarily-linked activities.

I’ve also long suspected that a significant percentage of many people’s urges to turn hobbies into hustles is to feed the “must-keep-busy” monster. Speaking as someone whose thoughts have turned to that frequently, that monster is forever insatiable. As Molly Conway writes in an article last month, it’s a trap. Go on hikes without being a guide. Learn to be a better baker without selling your wares at a local farmer’s market. Better yet, don’t feel the need to have any wares if you don’t need to. The enjoyment you get from things that don’t bring money can filter into the the things that do.

Or you might just have to enjoy the leisure time without quantifying it. That works too.

This Year, Resolve to Make Art

I thought I had already posted this article by Sean Kane from 2016, but evidently I hadn’t. So go ahead and read up on seven darn good scientifically-backed reasons why you should make art even if you’re not “any good” at it.

A perfect example of simply making art is Inktober, an annual event to do an ink drawing every day during October. I did this with my son –and moms and dads reading this, that’s reason enough to give it a go. Because while I tried things with shading and perspective that were hit or miss, he developed recurring story elements in the scenes he drew throughout the month that was a delight to witness (and on a parental note, it was a good transition to bedtime).

So go ahead, get your art on, whatever way you want to. You don’t need to share it with anyone. Science has your back.