What I’ve learned this last year . . . Hm. You mean besides the fact that my editor is allergic to cats, which Kippy instinctively seems to know, so she sits extra on NYC-bound items?
Besides that? I’ve learned the value of doing something else.
I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to write full time for the last several years, long before my agent and editor said yes. For many of those years, I’ve had another hobby — one I decided early on I never even wanted to try to go professional with. The yarn habit is for me.
As with any job — whether you write full time or on your lunch break — there’s always something that needs to be done. A manuscript needs to be finished. Or rewritten. Or edited. Or reread one last time. There are queries to send, emails to answer, or numbers to obsess over. Interview questions to answer, guest posts to write, subtle but effective promotion to figure out. Contest results to tally, industry gossip to stalk, and blogs to read. Did I mention writing? Because you still have to do that.
When you work from home, your office is right there. It’s so easy to turn on the computer (or wake it up if you’re like me and find the idea of turning off the computer a completely abhorrent idea) and check for an email from your agent, even though it’s 1am and you know from thorough stalking that she goes to bed at 11pm every night.
Step. Away. From. The. Computer.
I love my job — it’s the only job I ever wanted — but sometimes a break is necessary. (Even if I think I don’t want it.)
One of the things about writing real, living characters is that you have to live, too. I’m as guilty of workaholicness just as much as the next girl. Sometimes it’s hard to pry myself away from the computer. But my yarn hobby is portable. I can knit a fingerless mitt or sock anywhere. My spinning wheel lives in the living room — away from my computer — and most years I go to my local fiber festival where other yarnies gather to sell all manner of yarn things.
I’ve been crocheting/knitting/spinning (yarning) almost as long as I’ve been writing, and I’ve been treating writing like a full-time job for going on eight years now. But for a long time, yarning was just another thing I did. It made me happy. It wasn’t writing, though often inspired my writing. But now that writing is not just work, but Work That Pays Me, I find my hobby even more important. (If you have a day job and writing is your hobby, that is what yarn is to me. Except, again, I don’t want to go professional with it.)
It keeps me from getting lost in my work, and gives me another thing to create when I’m stuck on a story. And while it can be hard to avoid getting stressed over a yarn thing I want to accomplish (have I mentioned my work ethic, which is as strong as the sun’s gravitational pull?), I refuse to feel guilty if I’m ahead or behind, or unable to do a certain thing. It’s a hobby. I want to be good at it, but it’s okay if I’m not. Yarning is not my job.
My hobby allows my brain to work in different ways. It inspires me. It’s part of my real life that informs my writing. Having another passion doesn’t take away from my writing. It adds to it. It makes me a better writer.