The word “hobby” means, according to Dictionary.com, “an activity or interest pursued for pleasure or relaxation and not as a main occupation.” Certainly, writing technically fits that mold for many of us. We enjoy writing—many times we are relaxed by writing—and for many of us, it is not our main occupation or we would starve.
Yet, I felt a twinge when I listed “writing” among my hobbies if anyone asked. It just didn’t fit among my other pursuits such as sewing and growing herbs in little mason jars. There seemed a crucial difference between what I did when I wrote and the times when I pulled out my sewing machine to sew an occasional skirt. There is a psychological urgency for me when it comes to writing that simply isn’t there for the other hobbies I listed. While I do not make any serious money writing, the potential is there, even though money is not the main reason for doing it.
So, as I tend to do, I attacked the question logically and came up with the concept that even if one of our passions does not make money, it is not a hobby if it has potential to be a serious identifier in our lives and if we have concrete plans in place to make that happen. That can go for anything. If I had hopes of creating and selling my own dress patterns or clothing (I don’t), I could hardly call my budding business a hobby, even though it may start out not making any money. While it may bring me relaxation and and pleasure while I dedicate time each day to the tasks associated with the business, the seriousness removes the label of “hobby.” The same is true for writing.
A true hobby, on the other hand, really is a non-serious way for a person to unwind. For me, sewing is a legitimate hobby. I find it relaxing to focus on seams and to mathematically puzzle out the process of altering a pattern. I love the process of creating things, especially things I can wear. I also can cite and argue a great deal about the importance ethical fashion, which sewing supports. Yet I have absolutely no plans to do anything further with my sewing than making occasional skirts or dresses. Therefore, sewing is only a hobby. I don’t get up at 5:00 a.m. out of duty to sew, but I do wake up that early to write.
Why even hash this out? Well, the largest reason is that if you, as a writer, think of your writing as a hobby, then you may be tempted to not give it the seriousness it deserves. This is especially true if you have limited time resources. If you are scrambling through your day, dashing off to your day job and running around afterwards doing all of the necessary things you need to do in a day, the hobbies are the last priority. And if you are an especially giving person who says yes constantly when others ask of your time, it may seem extremely selfish to tell people “no, I need time to work on my hobby.” This is the subconscious excuse many people have for not writing—it seems too selfish to indulge a hobby when there are many more pressing “real” things in our lives.
So, the way around this is to stop thinking of our writing as a hobby. After all, it isn’t—at least according to my argument above. By thinking of writing as a “second job” or a “career,” we then can give it the attention it deserves. I began to tell myself that I worked two jobs—my day job/career and my writing career—both are important and both are serious. The writing career is, of course, a part time job, but it is a job,—not a hobby—nonetheless.
So, with that, make sure you put in time at your second job today!