In Search of Balance

I suppose you could say that writers are, by trade, creative people.  It actually takes a lot of energy to spend so much time in create mode, though.  At least, it does for me.  So you’d think when I wasn’t writing I’d be giving those creative juices a rest, but I recently realized that I really don’t.  All of my hobbies or activities that aren’t related to my career (or my kids or housework *g*) seem to be centered on creative outlets.  And I know this is just me, because there are tons of authors (here in the lair alone) who have wonderfully well-rounded, balanced interests.
sigh… But not me.  I really wish I did, though.  But when I sit and try to figure out what or where I’d bring in balance, I get stuck.

I’m not into sports at all, and even though I do exercise on a regular basis I prefer solitary exercise with my headphones on and my mind free to explore whatever story I’m stuck on (cuz I’m always stuck on one story or another).  Thankfully my husband isn’t a big sports fan either, although he does do a lot of competitive shooting, so he’s not bummed that I’m clueless over teams or scores or whatsis that goes with sports.

I read, tons.  But over the last handful of years I’ve began wondering if that’s actually a pastime and relaxing pursuit, or if it’s yet another thing that should be slid into the pursuing my career category. So that doesn’t seem very balanced.IMG_1829

So I keep thinking, what else do I do?  Hmm, I do a lot of crafting. It used to be more scrapbooking but in the last year I’ve been mostly focused on making cards.   I actually prefer scrapbook pages, but I can end up spending a whole week on one, while I can make a few cards in one evening before I get distracted by a deadline, hence… cards.  bday card


I cook, but I call that a necessity.  Even when the cooking edges into baking and the results are yummy cupcakes or in yesterday’s case, apple bread.  And I’ve been known to forget to cook for weeks at a time during deadline crazes.  Luckily my husband and kids are really good at feeding themselves.  And I hang out with friends, but most of my friends are in the writing industry so talk inevitably turns to business.

There is yummy margarita consumption and heavy breathing over Johnny Depp, but I probably don’t do enough of either to consider them a real part of the equation.  So when I look at it, I feel like I have a couple of interests, a fun hobby, but, um, no balance.  Tha’s no good 🙁

So what about you?  Do you find yourself gravitating toward hobbies that reflect or are similar to your chosen career?  Do most of your interests seem to focus in the same area?  And most important, do you have ANY tips on finding balance? 😀 

Annnd, a last winners shout-out:  The winners of the A SEAL’s Fantasy pre-release party prize: an autographed copy of any of my first 4 Sexy SEAL titles, along with a fun Sexy SEAL Swag Bag!!!  are:  catslady and Hannah!  Drop me an email with your shipping info, including Romance Bandits Fantasy in the subject line to collect your prize 😉

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  • Deanna says:

    Fortunately for me, while I was working as an IT consultant, my hobbies were nothing like work. I used to make bead jewelery and read. Then I also learned to cook and love it, and hence, cooking also became a hobby. My aim to to experiment and try at least one new starter, main and dessert a week. Fortunately for me, my husband loves food and will pretty much eat whatever I put in front of him. I suck as baking though, so this week’s baking experiment was a bust. 🙁

    Right now, I’m transitioning where work is concerned. I’ve left full time work and started focusing more on editing and proofreading for the day job, which I can do from home. I’ve done a lot of it in the past but never as a job in and of itself, more as part of what I was doing previously. So far most of what I’ve been editing and proofreading is non-fiction. I’ve not done any fiction and I don’t think I’m particularly good at it. And here’s the dilemma. Now I read for work and I like to read for fun. It’s hard to separate. I find the brain has to work a certain way when I read for work and sometimes it is hard to switch off when I’m reading for fun. Than again, there’s always the cooking. 🙂

    • Cassondra says:

      Deanna, I edit for my work too, and I write for my work. When it’s time to switch to fun, I read something different than what I’m editing, for certain, and usually a different genre than I’m writing. That helps relax my mind.

      All of it, though, is hard on the eyes.

      • Deanna says:

        You are right, it is hard on the eyes. I am finding my eyes get quite tired now when I read. I am having to wear my glasses more and more or I get squinty.

    • Cassondra says:

      OH! You got the rooster!

      Don’t even try to get him to edit anything. He doesn’t have the attention span. I’ve tried.

    • Tawny Weber says:

      Congrats on the job changes, Deanna 😀 Is it a huge difference working from home? I don’t know that I’d be able to do fiction editing, either 😀 It definitely takes a specific skill set to do it right, I’ve found.

      I love that you’ve been experimenting so much with cooking! Bummer on the bust but thats such a cool goal. I always feel lucky if I can get in one new ‘thing’ a year. This year its pie crust. I’d made that my goal a few years back and got… um, okay at it *g* but I’d love to master flakey pie crust!

      Hey… do you have a good recipe for cooked rooster? Even if you don’t, I’ll bet just mentioning it would keep a certain golden one in line 😉

      • Deanna says:

        I’ve worked from home on and off over the years, so it is not a huge adjustment. The one thing I do find is that you can get quite isolated and for an introverted person like it, it makes me even more introverted than I usually am. Not necessarily a good thing. I have to make more of an effort to connect with people and socialize.

        I personally don’t have a good recipe for fried rooster, but I did watch a YouTube video of one recently that I’m sure I could use. :-p

  • Helen says:

    Hi Tawny

    The only hobby I have is reading 🙂 and I am sure I still don’t get enough time for it what with working full time spending time with my family which I love reading is the only thing other than going to romance reader lunches and romance conferences and conventions I pretty much put everything I have into these maybe when I retire I will find time to so some knitting which I haven’t done in years. And sorry I have no tips on finding that balance

    Have Fun

    • Tawny Weber says:

      LOL Helen, you sound like me! Its all about the books (and family, of course). I envy your regular romance reader luncheons. Those sound so wonderful.

      Ahhh, knitting. ‘Tis almost the season for me to start again. I seem to only knit from Oct-Jan, and even then its pretty sporadic. I don’t finish a lot of projects LOL

  • Laney4 says:

    I too take forever when scrapbooking a measly two pages (as you know it’s easier/faster/better to do side-by-side pages at the same time – although you must watch that you aren’t at the end of an album and having half of something in one book and the other half in the next book). I too have transitioned into making “scrapbooking” cards for friends and family. What the heck. I already have all the materials that I have spent over $1,000 for in total (they DO add up, even though I buy stickers at the dollar store and buy other supplies sometimes in thrift stores but always on sale).
    I also use all those materials for decorating presents. The presents usually match the homemade cards (complete with my original poems). I just have to keep plain coloured tissue paper on hand so that the stickers (mostly large ones on the big presents and smaller ones on the envelopes/cards) don’t get lost in the background.
    I have no suggestions re balance. Life is fully of give and take. I take time to scrapbook but don’t do my mending pile or watch my taped shows on TV. I always make time for reading, though, as I require Epsom salt baths often, and what else is a person to do then, I ask you? Plus I carry my books in my purse so I can read while my husband is driving or when standing in line at the grocery store or waiting at the doctor’s office or or or….. (Just can’t scrapbook, etc. while doing all those things. Scrapbooking requires a great deal of space and supplies on hand, and then it takes awhile for the creative juices to come up with something that will enhance the photos. Much of my time is spent throwing out thousands of old photos too, as we don’t need 10 pictures of my newborn son on the hospital bed in the same outfit….)

    • Tawny Weber says:

      Laney, I totally agree that double layouts go a lot faster. I used to get more done when I was doing those, but then got lured into the more artsy, single photo on a page style layouts and, um, yeah. There goes a week on one photo. Not really great time management. LOL on the big collection of photos that look the same. When I switched from film to digital photography, I had my daughter scan in boxes and boxes and boxes of photos, but insisted that if there were more than 3 shots of any one thing, to only scan the best. Because, like you say, they take up a lot of space!

      I’m totally impressed that you not only do cards, but the wrapping and poems as well. How wonderful it must be to receive a gift from you 🙂

      And yay for the portability of the reading habit!!! It most definitely easier to take with us than a bunch of scrapbook supplies!!!

  • Shannon says:

    Yesterday I heard someone talk about t you want in life and goals. And then I realized what/how much I would have to change my life for a certain goal. This obsessing ended up in all or nothing thinking.

    Today, I got together with friends who talked about how they get things by doing things a day at a time.

    Reading, walking, friendships, swimming, recovery, and writing are all hobbies for me. But work is also about reading, writing, and building networks. So there’s not a lot of difference between work and my non-work life.

    I am going to do the necessary (laundry, bill paying, etc), my hobby of taking a walk, my indulgence in caffeine (latte), my hobby of reading, and dinner out with a friend. And while none of that gets me toward a big goal, and it’s not really balance, I’m going to enjoy every minute of it.

    As I write this, I recall what a friend once told me that he didn’t strive for balance because that in terms of physics that was a state of stasis (unchanging). He said what he sought was a little different–to think of life as a moving symphony, and his part was to be an instrument that mainly played harmony but sometimes had the melody.

    • Cassondra says:

      Shannon, I really like the instrument metaphor, and I also like the moving forward idea. As long as I’m having a good time and making progress, that does my soul a lot of good.

    • Tawny Weber says:

      Shannon, its so easy to get into the all or nothing thinking. But as you say, some life goals really do require an all-in major life commitment. I like the idea of one day at a time, but I don’t seem to be wired that way 😀 But the idea of enjoying every minute? That is such wonderful advice and such a fabulous goal!!

      I love your friend’s observation about life, balance and physics. What a lovely way to put it.

  • Cassondra says:

    I am the most unbalanced person, that if you look in the dictionary under “unbalanced” you’ll see my photo. Yep.

    I take a week or even two on a scrapbook page, which is why I stopped doing it. I have a whole wall of scrapbooking stuff, but it turned into “art”–with each page having some original theme having to do with a moment in our lives—and here I am building a pier on the ocean out of construction paper, and searching everywhere for pelican stickers, and figuring out how to make waves with whitcaps because it has to be “just so.” Then the page is a piece of art (albeit folk-artish) and there are only a couple of pictures on that page–maybe even just one. But by-gosh it’s beautiful. :0/

    My other “hobbies” are watercolor painting, which I seldom do because I get all anal and have to then start pursuing it to get it just right, and music, which has been work/career for me since I was 15, so that’s never just “fun.”

    I love cooking, and that’s a nice outlet, and I love good wine, but that quickly became a study, with notebooks and notebooks full of wine notes and studies on pairings….no balance there.

    I think it’s just personality. I get intense about whatever I do.

    I’m no help on the balance thing but I’m going to read the comments, looking for what other people have to say, hoping for good advice.

    By the way, I have a few cards that I’ve kept forever, hanging on my china hutch where I tape up cards every year. Two of them are yours because they’re just so pretty I can’t throw them away. I would love love love to do cards, but you know..I have so much time…not…

    • Tawny Weber says:

      LOL Cassondra!!! For an unbalanced person, you have an amazing sense of balance 😀 I admire it so much. I would love to see your construction paper pier art 😀 I’ll bet it’s amazing.

      I have watercolor envy now, btw. I’ve tried doing watercoloring via stamped images with some success, but it’s sort of like my knitting that I can only do with a knitting loom. It’s kinda doing it, but really not much, even though I’m usually happy with the end result. Maybe that is a balance of sorts? Doing something we enjoy in a way we can do it even if it’s not the ‘real way’ because at least we get to enjoy it a little?

      I’m kinda giggling about your wine studies 😀 I’m not a wine drinker but I can so easily imagine myself doing the same thing.

      btw, I got a little teary eyed at the thought that you saved my cards. That is so sweet, and really wonderful.

  • Jane says:

    Hello Tawny,
    I don’t have too many hobbies, but they’re definitely not related to my work. I wish I could incorporate comics or stamps into my work.

  • catslady says:

    I use to do tons of crafts. I really wanted to do something artistic as a career but made the mistake of obeying my parents and getting a real job lol. It was easier before children – I learned to do needlepoint, knit some, crochet, made ornaments and was always doing puzzles of some kind. And I always watched all kinds of sports because my husband is a big fan of almost everything. After kids came the computer and that seems to have taken over. I also joined a bowling league and bocci league and have a group of friends that play cards together. I love games of any kind too. Of course I’ve always read and always will!

    • Tawny Weber says:

      Okay… you win the balance award for the day 😀 You’ve really got it solid, don’t you!!! I am inspired at how you’ve brought in so many areas of life that you enjoy and given them focus. That is awesome!

  • Tawny, reading has always been my main form of relaxation. Writing was a hobby during my fanfic days, but now is work, and as you say, reading plays into it. I have a hard time NOT reading analytically anymore, which is really aggravating.

    I don’t know that I really have a hobby anymore unless it’s working jigsaw puzzles. That lets me sort of zone out, but I notice the story running in the back of my head while I’m fiddling with the puzzle.

    Hmm. I’m not coming up with anything useful. Sorry!

    • Tawny Weber says:

      LOL Sorry, Nancy. I guess its just sort of what we do–once the writing brain shifts into gear, its really difficult to turn it off. I will play game apps on my iPad every once in awhile, thinking it’s a way to zone, but, yeah, as soon as I zone I figure out a plot twist or character answer or something and poof-I’ve lost the game because I run back to my computer.

      I think it’s so cool how you are into the comics and such, with the conventions. Thats got to be awesome, even if it does maybe sorta, kinda feed into the writing 😀

  • Tawny, what a thought-provoking post. I hear you on everything tending to center back on the writing, whether it’s actually writing or just something word-related like reading. There’s a wonderful book called Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande that talks about this problem. She says writers need to take up some hobby that has nothing to do with words. Because we overuse the verbal part of our brain and it needs to rest now and again so the subconscious can stew on its preoccupations and give us the good ideas. She recommends an exercise (without listening to an audiobook!), or gardening, or a craft like knitting or cross stitch or playing a musical instrument. I was in a good routine with playing the piano for an hour or so a day and that really helped refresh my brain. I should get back into that!

    • Tawny Weber says:

      Oh, I want to say I’ve seen that book, Fo, but I even went to check my shelves and don’t have it, so I’ll have to get it 😀 I love anything that pinpoints an issue I’m having and offers advice!! Thank you!

      I used to have my scrapbook space in the same room I wrote and when I’d find myself stuck I’d move from my computer to the scrapping area to work on a project. I think because it was still keeping me in the creative zone, but was a visual medium instead of a verbal one. Inevitably, just when things got moving on the scrapbook project, I’d get unstuck on the writing and run back to my computer.

      But I am so intrigued by the idea of doing something completely non-verbal for awhile each day to keep the creative brain refreshed! Thank you 🙂