How Your Hobby Helps You Write

05 Jun

When I’m in a writing slump–which is far more often than I care to admit–or too submerged in reality to entertain fiction, the best thing I can do is pursue other creative endeavors. The hobby that gets me through the writing slump is painting.

imageI’m not an expert. In fact, an art critic would probably laugh in my face. But I’m not painting with critics in mind. That’s the first thing painting taught me…to enjoy the craft.

Take my first painting, for instance. It’s a one-dimensional interpretation of my wisteria tree…that closely resembles a purple weeping willow.

I stank at painting when I began. I still stink at it. But my level of stinkery is improving.

imageTo be fair, here’s a photo of the tree:

Be kind.

imageI’ve learned so much from painting. Painting teaches me the importance of progression. As long as I’m actually working, putting the paint on the canvas, I can’t actually go backwards, no matter how much I feel like I am.

I’m learning new techniques and becoming a better artist each time I apply the brushstrokes. Apply that concept to writing. Each time you edit a mistake, you’re progressing in your writing, because you’ve learned what works from experience.

imageNext, painting teaches me patience. I can’t crank out a painting in an hour. Even when I believe the painting is finished, sometimes I’ll revisit the canvas and say, “Oh. That tree needs more highlights,” or, “Why did I put that shadow there?”

imageWalk away from your manuscript occasionally. Only for a short time, mind you. When you return, you’ll observe your writing with clarity. It takes time and distance to be happy with the end result.

Speaking of distance, painting teaches me about perception, most importantly, depth, and viewing the work from the outside in. That means I can show the observer where I’m standing now, but I can also create a point in the future–the horizon–and take the observer to it.

I get to dictate what subject to bring to the forefront, and which one to leave in the background. The same can be said of writing, in our primary and secondary characters and in our plots.

imageFinally, when I paint, I relax. I load my palette with brilliant color, begin mixing, and lose hours in the creating. I appreciate the relaxation so much, because once I get back to my manuscript, I can write well again. There’s no way I can write well when I’m stressed.

The slumps will come, but use your down-time wisely. Turn your hobby into an investment. The dividends will amass once you’re back in front of your manuscript.

What hobbies benefit your writing? I’d love to hear about it.

~Jericha Kingston


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10 responses to “How Your Hobby Helps You Write

  1. Pegg Thomas

    June 5, 2015 at 8:49 am

    I fear my hobbies pull me away from my writing. But cooking is a hobby for me and I do like trying historical recipes. 🙂

    Oh, and I forgot to add, my favorite of your paintings is the last one. 🙂


    • jerichakingston

      June 6, 2015 at 7:49 am

      One of your hobbies involves wool, correct, Pegg? While shearing, cleaning, dyeing, spinning, or other wooly processes, you don’t think about your characters’ dialogue? Plot? I’d think your hobby would be very beneficial to writing!

      Thanks for the kind words. The last painting is also my favorite, and is a prime example of patience, perception, and progression.


  2. Robin Patchen

    June 5, 2015 at 9:17 am

    First, your paintings are beautiful. For somebody with the artistic eye of a blind person–seriously–I’m amazed that you can create such beauty with paint.

    Second, excellent points. I especially like the idea that sometimes, it’s about progression. The goal is to keep improving, not to be perfect from the start. If that’s the goal, then nobody will paint–or write, or do anything, really. Anything worth doing well is worth doing badly for awhile.

    Excellent post. Thanks for the reminders today.


    • jerichakingston

      June 6, 2015 at 8:02 am

      Thank you, Robin! I thought I’d never learn to paint. Multiple paintings are stacked in my closet, never to be seen by anyone. One day I’ll take them out, sand them, and start over. That’s the great thing about canvas–a little sandpaper, and all is well in the world again.

      I wouldn’t give up. You’re an amazing writer, Robin. That means you’re creative. I can’t paint people or animals. Or so I keep telling myself. Like everything else, it’s practice until perfect. Or, in my case, until acceptable.


  3. Catherine Castle

    June 5, 2015 at 11:50 am

    I love this post. I’ve always wanted to paint, but have never made the time. Gardening is my thing. A long row or bed of weed pulling clears my head and lets me think. BYW, your paintings are charming.


  4. jerichakingston

    June 5, 2015 at 12:42 pm

    I agree, Catherine, gardening is wonderful! Since you mentioned ‘a long row’, I assume you grow vegetables? So glad you enjoyed the post. Thank you for commenting. Stop by anytime!


  5. Candice Sue Patterson

    June 6, 2015 at 8:34 am

    What a wonderful hobby! Painting walls is the extend of my ability when it comes to paint and a brush, but my mom used to paint when I was a kid. I’d watch her for hours, amazed by how each layer added a different dimension. Kind of like writing, huh? Each layer adds something new and beautiful, when at first draft it stinks. Great post, Jericha!


    • jerichakingston

      June 8, 2015 at 8:31 am

      So true, Candice! In fact, I was going to include layering in this post, but it was already lengthy, so like a good writer, I cut it.

      I’m glad you grew up with an artist. She probably nurtured your creativity. No wonder you’re such a great writer. Let’s hear it for moms!


  6. Joan Deneve

    June 8, 2015 at 9:45 am

    Your money line: “My level of stinkery is improving” LOL!! Loved it! Very helpful since I seem to be in a bit of a writing slump. My problem is that I’m not an artist. It would not be relaxing…and my level of “stinkery” would never improve! But I so enjoyed your post today and your lovely paintings. You are multitalented (and one of your many talents is being a good friend and encourager)


  7. jerichakingston

    June 9, 2015 at 8:25 am

    I admit, Joannie, when I began painting, it was far from relaxing. It was stressful. I have perfectionist tendencies, and you simply can’t think that way when you’re painting. The work becomes perfect with the last brushstroke–your signature 🙂

    And YOU are the encourager! Thank you for being such a blessing to me and others.



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