Hobbies and Crafts Aiding Writing: 2015 Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour

2015 Merry Go Round Blog TourThe topic this month is an interesting one for me because I’m a bit of a generalist as are many writers. I list among my crafts and hobbies everything from quilting to drawing to playing the guitar to doing puzzle books. Reading I don’t really consider a hobby, but then it’s life critical.

The thing about creative outlets is they draw from the same creative pool. There’s the risk of taking energy away from something I’m writing by indulging in one of my hobbies, but at the same time, they can have a renewing influence when I’m tapped or stuck.

The risk, or maybe the reality, of how much creative energy my writing demands is the reason my creative hobbies often fall by the wayside. My life is littered with guitar songs I planned to learn, quilts I’m in the middle of sewing, drawings abandoned because it takes too long to get them right, and more other projects than I can think of offhand, which doesn’t even begin to touch the things I’ve wanted to do but never started.

From the above, you might think my hobbies have an antagonistic relationship with my writing, but that really isn’t true. Beyond the renewal, playing the guitar can set my mind spinning through different answers to plot points I’m struggling with. My drawing might be restricted to marginalia at this point, but those same skills have helped me produce covers that have drawn many positive comments. Without that ability, I would have had many fewer titles released because of startup costs.

However, I want to talk about the least likely and ultimately one of the most helpful hobbies I’ve found: quilting.

Quilting involves the hands, the eyes, and to some degree my attention, but there’s a reason many people quilt in front of the television. It just doesn’t require as much of the thought process once the design is chosen.

My books go through several edit passes both by myself and by others but from the number of errors in all published books, traditional or indie, it’s clear there is no simple solution to proofreading, and worse, correcting one error can introduce another. One way to reduce the chances of errors getting through, though, is to change the medium of the book so your mind approaches it differently. I started doing that by completing an edit pass on my Kindle, but it wasn’t until I had Beneath the Mask converted to audio by the talented Dawn Hyde that I realized another approach.

Audio is a very different beast from writing. It requires the same steps, but performed in a completely different fashion. You still need to edit, but you need to listen for mispronunciations or where the narrator misread a section. It happens the same way as when I type a word that isn’t remotely what I meant to type. However, I needed something to occupy the rest of me while listening or my attention would drift.

That’s when I rediscovered my quilting.

I can cut out pieces and sew them together while listening to audio, or even the read-along computer voice. Issues that my eyes brushed right past stand out when spoken. It’s one of the reasons I used to do an edit pass reading the whole thing aloud, and still do to some extent.
squilting squares-s
However, not only is that rough on my voice, but I would read what I saw. If my eyes corrected the issue automatically, I wouldn’t find it and would have to depend on my editors to catch that slip. Now, I do a final read-along pass on everything. It’s time consuming, but my latest quilt grew in leaps and bounds as I did the final edits on Threats (The Steamship Chronicles, Book 2) while I was able to experience the story in a way I never had before.

Now like most techniques, this wouldn’t work for everyone. I’m more than a natural multi-tasker. I’m a mandatory multi-tasker. I can’t focus on one thing at a time and have any success. I need music or a podcast or something to occupy those bits not involved in the main task so they don’t distract me. However, pairing the various tasks can be a real trial, and I never would have thought quilting had this potential if not for doing the audio book of Beneath the Mask.

I am constantly learning new things, and rediscovering things I enjoyed before that I now don’t have as much time for, as I learn how to incorporate them into my processes.

What about you? Do you have hobbies you require additional distractions to concentrate on? Or do you need a focused environment? And what kind of hobbies have you enjoyed lately?

Today’s post was inspired by the topic “How do other hobbies or crafts help your writing?” — March’s topic in Forward Motion’s Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour. Read the thoughts of nearly twenty different authors at various stages in their careers on this same topic. The next posts in the series are by Lisa Janice Cohen and Bonnie R. Schultzman.

Check out the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour to learn more. You can find links to all of the posts on the tour on the group site. Read and enjoy!

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2 Responses to Hobbies and Crafts Aiding Writing: 2015 Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour

  1. jjmcgaffey says:

    So what’s my excuse for all the unfinished stuff? I don’t have any books in replacement… :).
    I can work on one thing by itself, and I _can’t_ work on two things involving words (can’t read, or write, or code while listening to my preferred music, which has words (and instrumental music will put me to sleep!)). Actually, the most constant multitasking I do is if I go to a concert or a lecture – where my task is to listen and absorb – I MUST have handiwork (usually braiding or knitting) or I totally lose focus. I occasionally do the same kind of thing while watching tv or a movie – but I do that very seldom and I usually want to watch it as well as listen. And I’ve tried listening to audiobooks while doing crafts, but must audiobooks drive me nuts one way or another, so I seldom bother.

    • Margaret McGaffey Fisk says:

      Your excuse is that you do so many different types of things :). Honestly, if you never finish anything, it’s a sign of needing more commitment. When you finish tons of projects but start twice as many…well, that’s just liking to do stuff ;).

      I’ve found audiobooks, television, and music are much the same. If I want to focus on them, I can’t do something else because they contain enough input to require full attention. But if I see them as supplementary and am willing to miss the small stuff, then I’m fine. Though I’ve never tried writing while singing along to something :). Coding on the other hand, absolutely.

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