Have you ever noticed how it's so much harder to enjoy the things you do every day? No doubt baristas stick with smoothies on their days off, and McDonald's workers probably opt for pizza instead of a burger. There's something about doing the same thing day in and out that makes it feel like work. Which, essentially, it is. I say this to present the challenge that all writers face when writing as a hobby or for fun. I have been writing since the age of 11. Granted, the writing was pretty crappy back then, but it got better over the years -- the point where I actually won a competition on some writer's internet forum. I love writing, and I love creating. It was a pleasure for me to write, and it never felt like work. Then came the day that I started to earn money with my writing. I found that my skills could be monetized, and I haven't looked back since. For almost 4 years, I have been supporting myself and my family with my writing. But the fact that I was writing for a living meant that writing for pleasure went out the window. Any time I would sit down at my computer during my free time, it just felt like I was working again. The last thing I wanted to do with my hours off was do more work. This is a problem that all professional writers face. In fact, anyone that does a lot of writing for a living probably has an issue with this. A new friend of mine, Tim Meloche of the Literary Lawyer, made me think of this the other day. When I asked him if he wrote for a living, he replied, "I'm not a writer in the traditional sense. I am a lawyer and spend my days writing." I realized that writers aren't the only ones that spend hours every day writing. Lawyers, secretaries, doctors, programmers, and many other professionals write, often more than the average writer does in a day. I have little doubt that writing as a hobby/passion feels a bit like work to them too. So, if writing is your work, can it be your hobby or your passion as well? Of course it can, but that doesn't make it any easier. You'll still find that it feels a lot like work, and there's nothing you can do about it at first. Here are my tips to help you make writing your hobby even if it's your job as well:
- Do Something to Make it Different -- I change up my environment when I write as a hobby. On work days, I listen to rock music and drink green tea at my desk. On novel-writing days, I drink coffee, listen to techno, and work on my couch. It makes all the difference. Find those little things that makes it seem less like work.
- Cut Out Time Only For Fun Writing -- With my work flow being reduced in recent months, I find myself with a bit more time to write. I try to fit all of my "work" into the first four days of the week, and spend Friday writing for fun. I can still approach my "fun" writing like a professional, but without the feeling of "it's another work day". I actually look forward to Fridays more than ever.
- Give it Time -- For the last 3 years, I haven't picked up my proverbial pen for "fun" or creative writing because of the problem mentioned above. However, during some vacation time I recently had, I started writing for fun again. It took a few months, but now I can actually switch back and forth between work and creative writing fairly easily. If it's hard for you now, keep it up, and it will feel less like work after a while.