I’ve recently taken up the guitar again after a break of – ooh, about eighteen years because I felt a bit overwhelmed by this writing lark, and I needed a different outlet (Yes- apart from alcohol!) Many of my friends on FB and Twitter are writers and they have lots of interesting hobbies that I really enjoy reading about: sewing, sailing, painting, gardening and such like. It made me wonder what my fellow Romantic Writers do to escape from this writing treadmill that we are all so determined to walk on- so over to them. PS have cracked a fair bit of Simon and Garfunkel but Eric Clapton I am not! Jaxx
Lets start with Jo: This was quite a tough one to answer as with three jobs, four children, four dogs and a half-finished Masters degree, writing kind of is my hobby! I wanted to put drinking, but apparently that’s more of a pastime than a hobby. I like painting, but haven’t done as much of that since I started really trying to write for publication about two years ago. I also like the cinema, long walks in the countryside and kayaking at the beach… Umm, now this is starting to sound like a personal ad – although, if it helps, I also like Pina Colada and getting caught in the rain! I suppose, at a push, I’d say travel or, more accurately, holidays. I like to have at least two trips booked to look forward to at any one time and I don’t mind if they are in the UK or overseas, I just love the change of scene and new places more often than not inspire a potential new storyline; which, I suppose, brings us straight back to writing.
And Helen R: When I really want to escape the writing treadmill I have a few different strategies depending on how I feel. Sometimes I snuggle down in front of a good film and lose myself in that…I read once that film plot structures closely resemble book plot structures and are far more clear, so I can even class this activity as “research” for my writing techniques.
Other times I need to get well away from my desk and any type of screen, so in that case I go out for a long walk, or grab a hot chocolate from a café, or chat with a friend. Sometimes I do find myself apologising to the friend for talking so much though…almost like a dam that has burst its banks!
I am inspired now though, Jackie, and maybe I’ll start playing my flute again…
Rachael says: Initially I tried the piano, but that is not for me, then a few years ago, deciding I needed another creative outlet, I treated myself to a good camera. Once bought I realised I didn’t have a clue how to use it, not properly anyway. So I enrolled on an online course. I am still very much an amateur and often don’t get the desired results, but I at least know what I am trying to achieve.
Last summer, I told myself, once I’d finished the book I was writing, I’d spend more time with my camera, wondering if maybe I should try photography after years of submitting. Then everything seemed to happen at once, as my entry into a competition led ultimately to a publishing contract. Now time out with my camera is my treat or reward for meeting my mini deadlines as I write a book.
Julie says: Writing is my main hobby and has been for the past 11 years although I’ve massively increased the amount of time I devote to it in the past few years. However, I do have a couple of other interests. My main regular one is that I volunteer as a Brown Owl and run a pack of 24 x Brownies (girls aged 7-10) in a nearby village. I started helping out a little over 4 years ago with a view to taking over from the outgoing Brown Owl when she retired at the end of the year. I love planning and organising different, interesting nights for the girls and feel a huge amount of satisfaction when I can see they love the activities the other leaders and I have come up with. We went to the beach to play games and toast marshmallows on a camp fire on Monday and we’ll be doing a treasure hunt around town next week, both of which will be great fun.
If you’d asked this question last year, I’d have also said that I love going to bootcamp. I used to rise at 5.30am and be on the beach for 6.30am 3 mornings a week, whatever the weather, to exercise. Unfortunately I felt it was time to move on at the start of the year when the business running it expanded so much and group sizes became too overwhelming for me. The weight I lost has piled back on and I’ve lost my fitness levels and really must get back into exercise. I’m toying with taking up cycling on an evening to get fit but the bike hasn’t made it out the garage yet.
I love to read (although I don’t have enough time to do this as much as I’d like), I collect teddy bears (proper jointed mohair ones) and can also make these although I’ve only made five because, again, I struggle for time. The last bears I made were to give to the mums as thank you gifts when I got married nearly nine years ago! I love doing cross-stitches but haven’t picked up one of those for about six years. Again, time is a struggle. It’s all about looking at priorities. I work full-time, I have a family and I run a Brownie pack which takes way more than just the night that Brownies is on. Writing fits in round all of that and, because I love it so much, I don’t leave room for anything else as I’d rather use my time to write!
Alys says: When I’m not writing I like to crochet and sometimes to knit. I learnt to crochet about 4 years ago and I love it. It’s very relaxing and a great way to unwind provided the pattern is not too complicated. I’ve recently been involved in a yarn-bombing project in York. With the Grand Depart of the Tour de France coming to Yorkshire next month the whole of York is bike obsessed with yellow sprayed bicycles and yellow bunting popping up all over the place. I helped to Knit a Bike which has now been put up as a yarn-bombing installation in one of the parks in York. It was great fun to do and I had an excellent time learning to finger knit and then making the chain for the bike with the largest crochet hook I’ve ever seen. If you’d like to see pictures of the completed bike then there’s a link to a blog about it here. http://hippystitch.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/knit-bike-yarnstormed-installation-for.html
My other passion is folk music and I love listening to it and going to gigs. Some of my friends are folk musicians so I often go to see them play. My favourite folk bands/musicians are Lau, Sam Carter and Bellowhead and I’m hoping to see them play live again sometime soon.
Deirdre says: It’s art for me. I’d been looking for something else to do for when the writing got all too much or I was plain bored with it. I didn’t know what, exactly, except it had to be something creative. Then a friend mentioned Lucy, an art teacher she was having lessons with, and to cut a long story short I’ve just finished a term of ten weekly classes.
I hadn’t picked up a pencil or brush almost since O level art but we started off with flowers, which I could just about cope with, and I must say I am hooked. I’ve learned such a lot already and produced some just about passable drawings and paintings, although my technique is still pretty woeful. I enjoy the drawing but love watercolour painting. It feels calm and peaceful, just what I need after a session slaving over a hot keyboard. I have a drawer full of lovely art materials already. Who would have thought that the best watercolour paints you can get come from Russia? They’re called St Petersburg White Nights, and they’re wonderful to use. The pigments are so deep they look almost black in the palette. You can only buy them on-line so if you’re thinking of taking it up, don’t waste your time and money in Smith’s.
If you enjoy looking at beautiful paintings, take a peek at Lucy’s gallery here. http://www.lbparker.com/ I just need to get the wip finished now so I can spend some time on art over the summer and hopefully improve a little before the classes start again in September.