2017 was the year I considered finding a new hobby.
It started when I hit the Writer’s Block Perfect Storm. Halfway through the rough draft of a new book, I realized the story was fundamentally broken, and would need some major changes to be workable. On top of that, I took on new responsibilities at work, making my days longer and more draining. And on top of that, my wife and I bought a house.
The discouragement and busyness all came to a head shortly before we closed on the house, and I came to a point where I just. Stopped. Writing. I wasn’t chipping away at a novel. I wasn’t blogging. I wasn’t writing monthly newsletters. I was frozen.
That was when I started asking myself if writing was still the hobby for me.
I’d had a nice run. I’d written some books I was proud of and had a lot of fun along the way, but there was nothing keeping me at the writing desk. I love my day job. There’s nothing I’m trying to escape with a full-time writing income. I just like telling stories and knowing others are enjoying those stories.
And yet, the more I thought about it, the harder it was to imagine myself uninstalling Scrivener and never creating another character or engineering another plot. As far as hobbies go, writing can be pretty demanding, but in that time of doubt, I realized it was a hobby I couldn’t not do.
At the same time, I couldn’t keep doing things the way I’ve been doing them. I’ve been realizing there are a lot of things I’ve been doing that made writing feel like a job. They’re all things the self-publishing podcasts and blogs agree you should do if you’re serious about selling lots of books. And of course I want to sell lots of books.
So I did as many of those things as I could. For a while, I even enjoyed them. There are a lot of fun and useful tools out there for indie authors. But as I added tool after tool to my toolbox, I started spending almost as much time working with those tools as I was writing.
I’d given my hobby administrative work.
So now I’m working on finding some balance with this hobby. Just because writing is a hobby doesn’t mean I don’t want to tell the best stories I can, or that I don’t want to sell as many books as possible. It doesn’t mean I won’t force myself to sit down and hit a daily word quota, or that I’m going to rush through my edits because all I want to do is publish and have another trophy on my Amazon author page.
But it does mean I’m going to shed a lot of the things that make my hobby feel like a job.
That’s going to be the adventure of 2018. Finding that balance is going to be a challenge, because the fact of the matter is writing can be a hard hobby. If I dumped everything that was hard, I’d never publish another book. So there’s a line out there, somewhere. I’m not sure exactly where it is, but I know in which direction it needs to move.
So here’s to better balance in 2018. It’s been working well so far, as I’m almost 50,000 words into a new book that I’m really excited about. It’s going to be an interesting year, and I’m looking forward to the challenge of making this hard hobby a little less difficult.