Keep Your Writing Brain Sharp With Creative Hobbies

Do you have days when writing feels like a chore? Days where you’ve pulled out all the stops, critiqued everyone’s work, made a checklist, pried yourself off of Twitter, and still the words don’t seem to flow? I do!

On days like that, I throw in the proverbial writing towel and turn to my hobbies.

My creative hobbies are growing daily, and are totally hands on. Some of them feed me, clothe me, or entertain my kids. Some of them exasperate me. Many of them are soothing and predictable. But the best ones tax my brain a little. There’s a reason why creative hobbies and writing are both described as craft: “an occupation, trade, or activity requiring manual dexterity or artistic skill”. Hands and brain are coming together to create beauty and truth– something that all writers crave.

So if I’m:

Fitting pattern pieces on a too-small piece of fabric destined to be a shirt.

Knitting a sock without a pointy heel. And then knitting a second one.

Piecing together tiny pieces of fabric to create a mostly non-wonky quilt.

Trying a new recipe for dinner: there’s no better way to make myself happy and my children sad.

Baking something with complicated steps.

I’m also (hopefully) increasing my writing dexterity.

Learning a new skill with my hobbies gives me confidence that I can learn new skills in my writing. So far it seems to be working! I love trying adventurous formats, and finding distinctive ways to write a story. I can receive feedback graciously, and know what works best during revisions. 

When you have limited time (Thanks, kids! Thanks, work!), spending time on hobbies can feel like a huge waste. You need to write that picture book right now, or how will you ever get published?! That idea isn’t going to find itself! How dare you so leisurely spend this hour when you could be finding the perfect ending?

I say, tell your inner critic to back off. You’ve got this!

Go ahead and knit.

Build a tree house,

pick some blueberries and bake a pie,

paint with your kids,

classify the animals in your backyard,

and then write a story about it.


I write stories about my hobbies all the time. I’m not the only one! Here are a few of my favorite books that feature some of my hobbies. 

What do you like to create? Is there a book about it?

Books about Knitting:

Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen

Lester’s Dreadful Sweaters by K.G. Campbell

A Friendship Yarn by Lisa Moser and Olga Demidova

Baking: 

Fry Bread by Kevin Noble Maillard and Juana Martinez-Neal

Bread Pet by Kate DePalma and Nelleke Verhoeff

Pies From Nowhere by Dee Romito and Laura Freeman

Enemy Pie by Derek Munson and Tara Callaghan King

Sewing/Quilting: 

Sewing Stories by Barbara Kerkert and Vanessa Brantley-Newton

Owen by Kevin Henkes

The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Polacco

Where Did My Clothes Come From? by Christine Butterworth and Lucia Gaggiotti

Fixing/Mending:

I Had a Favorite Dress by Boni Ashburn and Julia Denos

The Most Magnificent Thing

Be a Maker by Katie Howes and Elizabet Vukovic

After the Fall by Dan Santat

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14 responses to “Keep Your Writing Brain Sharp With Creative Hobbies”

  1. Love this post, Sarah! I feel like I dropped into the creativity hole of hobbies! I do like to draw, collect rocks, and dig in the flowerbed. Thank you for the awesome inspiration!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes, creative outlets are a great way to hone your writing craft. Anything that gives your brain and hands a bit of a different workout can be good for the stories. For me, right now, it’s my garden.

    P.S. I love that you have “Pie Baker” your list of who you are at the top of your blog! (I love pie.)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I totally agree. Having an outlet to do something non-writing is important. I should pull out the yarn weaver I got years ago and make some stuff!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love the idea of writing about your hobbies! Baking I love in the winter. But on hot summer days it does not have the same appeal. BUT I did do some thinking about activities fulfill me so horseback riding and kayaking are back in my life in the spring and summer.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love baking, too! I’ve featured that hobby in a few of my picture books. 😉 Some favorite PBs of mine that feature food and baking are DOZENS OF DOUGHNUTS by Carrie Finison, A COOKED-UP FAIRY TALE by Penny Parker Klostermann, and PORCUPINE’S PIE by Laura Renauld. 🙂

    Like

  6. I love baking, too! I’ve featured that hobby in a few of my manuscripts. 😉 I love your list (and photos) of your favorite picture books. Some of my favorite PBs that feature food and baking are DOZENS OF DOUGHNUTS by Carrie Finison, A COOKED-UP FAIRY TALE by Penny Parker Klostermann, and PORCUPINE’S PIE by Laura Renauld. 🙂

    Like

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