Asking If Writing Is a Hobby, Is Asking the Wrong Question

Wednesday, January 18, 2023
This may seem like a silly thing to be bothered by, but I recently read a blog post by a writer I follow who asked whether or not you are taking writing seriously, questioning whether you are just writing as a hobby. 

Somehow, this bothered me. And it did because creating writing has taken a back seat like I feared this January. Of course, it's only week two of the new year and this was a stressful week at work, but still...

The blog post, which I'll admit I skimmed, suggested that many people have grandiose dreams of writing and publication without actually wanting to put in the effort of writing. You know the whole pen-to-paper and butt-in-chair type of thing. 

That may be true. Sometimes the dream of success is far different than the reality of trying to obtain it. And yet, honestly, those dreams can be motivators.

But what's also true is having the discipline to write isn't exactly easy. You really do need to make writing a regular part of life, get in the muck of the revision process, etc.

Yet, this is what bothered me: the person says a hobbyist just writes for fun, and a professional writes for keeps. 

As if it's really that black and white. As if writing for fun is silly and only those who mope through their text are the true professionals. As if there isn't a time to love writing for the joy of it and other times for disciplining yourself to get through your written work. 

I think asking someone whether they are writing for fun (hobby) or writing for a future (professional) is asking the wrong question. 

There's a deeper reason this bothered me, and if you stayed with me this far, hang out a bit longer.
You see, let's go back a bit before all of this. Several years ago, blogging was a regular thing for me and I loved doing product reviews too. I was part of a blogging community and this whole hobby thing came up for blogging. There were people on there saying people who blog for the fun of it shouldn't be doing product reviews at all. 

I mean, how fair is that? Why not, right?

It always set me against this community and made me not feel as if I was supported at all. 

What I have realized is there was a far greater benefit to me doing this type of blogging than I realized at the time. It was writing practice and helped me feel confident cold pitching companies. It exposed me to public relations. I'm sure it's why I'm comfortable cold-pitching publishing companies to work with WOW! and why I'm fine pitching bloggers to participate in tours. If I get a bit of snark or a brush-off or just ignored, it's fine. It's part of the process.

So, was I hobby blogger as implied by this community? Or, as this blogger I read recently implied, was I just blogging for fun (hobby) and not "for keeps" (professional)? Well, I was blogging for fun, but I never saw it as a hobby. I didn't just categorize myself that way. There was a bigger picture happening for me than I realized at the time. All the skills I gained from it were valuable and even led me to feel comfortable doing public relations (which I am doing professionally now).

This year I want writing to be fun again, but does that mean I'm making it a hobby? 

Well, that's not the question to ask. 

To me, a hobby means it's something I don't expect to have a serious outcome. And sure, maybe for some writing is purely for the fun of it without any future expected of it.

But even then, I plea for that person who just "writes for the fun of it" to not categorize themselves with the label of hobbyist versus professional. 

Honestly, I think writing for the fun of it is the first step towards a professional outcome. Sure, writing isn't always fun and you do need discipline for many stages of the writing process. But don't be so quick to label yourself and be dismissed by those who are at a more successful level than you. Instead, keep going. Keep making writing fun for yourself. Because before you know it, writing will become something different. 

For me, I want to make writing fun for me again. I want to capture the joy of creative writing. Should I label myself as just a hobbyist then? No, absolutely not. And you shouldn't either if that's what you are hoping for too. 

I have felt guilty for not writing lately, and sometimes I do struggle with the joy of writing. But that's where discipline can come in because the second I do make writing part of the day (or week) it does add joy to my life.

Instead, I need to ask myself this: are there opportunities when I can prioritize writing over other tasks? The want to write is part of it, but making the step towards adding it to your day is another part. 

So, if you have the want of writing but aren't writing, or maybe you have dreams of writing success and aren't writing, don't just accept the label of "hobbyist." Instead, ask yourself: can you discipline yourself to write even if the want isn't there and the successful result doesn't come right away?

If you've answered "yes" to that question or even "I'd like to" you are halfway there to capturing your creative self again. 

Take one step at a time and embrace where you at while striving to push forward. You'll get there. Just trust the process.

Nicole Pyles is a writer, blogger, and bookworm living in Portland, Oregon. Her stories and poetry have been featured on The Voices Project, Arlington Literary Journal, Sky Island Journal, and in the anthology Dear Leaders Tales. She loves promoting authors with WOW! Women on Writing as a blog tour manager and reviewing books on her writing blog, World of My Imagination. She has also started blog, Notes on Scripture, that includes reflections while reading the Bible.


Angela Mackintosh said...

I often hear people say that if you don’t make a living from your writing, then it’s a hobby. I disagree. Writing is an art that takes practice. Many authors spend years writing a book, and they’re obviously not getting the sufficient monetary return on their time investment. Very few writers make a living solely from their creative writing, and supplement it by teaching, freelancing, consulting, day jobs, etc. And most of the time, if an author publishes a well-written book, the matter of making a living from it comes down to how much marketing they put into it. I’ve seen some of the best books I’ve ever read get launched with little fanfare and then just disappear because the author’s publisher didn’t put a big budget behind it.

For someone to say that bloggers who blog for the fun shouldn’t be writing reviews is crazy! These are exactly the kinds of reviews I would want as an author--reviews from real readers who are having fun and enjoying your book. I think it’s such an outdated way of thinking, that if you’re having fun, it has to be a hobby. You’re an incredible blogger, which has led to many opportunities, jobs, and a career as a publicist. My goal this year is to bring more joy into my writing life. Fun inspires creativity. True joy doesn’t come without some pain. I take my writing seriously, but if I can enjoy the process in all stages--whether taking classes, writing, submitting--and feel proud of what I’ve written, even if it isn’t recognized widely by others, then to me, that is success.

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

It is so important to remember that not all writers share the same goals. We have different motivators and interests.

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