Heaving Awkwardly: My New Non-Writing-Related Hobby

We writers with day jobs don’t have a lot of time for hobbies. But working with words all day, whether I’m teaching, editing The Los Angeles Review, or working on my writing projects, can begin to turn me slightly nutty. I’m a firm believer in the necessity of writers having some non-language related hobbies, and in the springtime, I enjoy gardening as a somewhat mindless pursuit (though the results of my garden so far would suggest it needs to be quite a bit more mindful). I also love cooking, but this writer can only bake and eat so many pies before she realizes she’s composed of mostly butter.

Early this summer, when I was laid up with a case of the flu (thanks, students!), I decided to try out Pinterest, a new-ish social media network in which users can create virtual pinboards of hobbies and interests. I quickly learned that there were more hobbies in heaven and earth than I had dreamed of if my philosophy. For example,  I could learn how to do this to my forehead. I could get a tutorial in how to deface a perfectly good pumpkin. I could get this recipe to give myself a massive coronary in perhaps the least appealing way possible. I could also learn where to purchase completely unnecessary devices for the home kitchen.

I kid you not: all of the above actually showed up in my Pinterest friends’ user feeds. I do not know what I have in common with these people.

In all seriousness, there really are quite a few worthwhile items on Pinterest. But I’ve realized that crafts, especially ones that involve gluing a rather distressing prosthetic to my forehead, are not going to cut it as downtime from writing/teaching/editing.

A few weeks ago, I decided to try running. Before now, I’ve never been a great lover of exercise; it’s always been something I do because I have to and my doctor will shame me if I don’t. These exercise-produced endorphins people blathered on about were a mystery to me. But I was at such a point of frustration with my work in progress–see below post for context–that I decided I needed something to work all the extra emotion out of my system. (My writerly idol, Haruki Murakami, seems to think it works.)

Thus, a 5k runner was born. If you’d told me a few months ago that heaving myself around rather slowly, awkwardly, and over long distances would be such a good head-clearing method, I’d have laughed. These little 5k jaunts are, however, almost miraculous in their ability to relive my frustration and quiet my mind so that I can think more clearly about what it is that I need to accomplish in my work.

I’m fairly sore, it’s true, but having made it through about one hundred pages of revision and 20 kilometers so far this week, I think I may be on to something.

6 Replies to “Heaving Awkwardly: My New Non-Writing-Related Hobby”

  1. Endorphins? Okay, but banana trees (unnecessary devices for the home kitchen) run a close second. Seriously, running is a good idea for writers, if only to give us permission to eat buttery pies. Carry a little notebook and pen in an armband or something. I’ve found at about 15 minutes, the ideas kick in, but by the time I return home, I’m too tired to remember them or write them down.

  2. Joe, I can’t imagine anyone on earth less qualified to write a self-help book…possibly Run Your Way to Worse Knees?

    Stephanie, I’m going to rely on folks like you to keep me motivated. And honest. No Paul Ryan marathon fibs. 🙂

    Claire, I love the idea of bringing a notebook along. I think I’ll give it a try (an attempt not to impale myself with the tiny pencil!)

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