Monday, August 24, 2009

Other than Writing

I haven't felt much like blogging lately, largely I think because I'm enjoying the minor downtime I'm having between traveling everywhere. This has been the summer of travel and while I like travel, I also really, really like being at home.

And then I thought that it might be interesting to do an informal poll about what you like to do other than writing, and WHY you like to do it. Anything is fair game, as long as it doesn't involve writing. I'll start us off!

  1. Cooking. I like to cook. I've been cooking up a storm since I've gotten home from Odyssey, partially because I have a kitchen with much, much better kitchen equipment here than I did in the dorm-apartments. A rough survey of what I've made recently includes: scones, dark chocolate sorbet, miso-marinated steak, tsukene-ni, spinach and basil pesto over cavatappi with cannellini, and ratatouille. I want to knock off some salted caramel ice cream before the summer is over, and I just ordered a rice cooker...
  2. Knitting. I've spoken about knitting before, but I love doing it because it uses an entirely different part of my brain than reading and writing. I'm not coordinated; the fact that I can knit decently after four years is a testament to much, much practice. I also can't knit very much every day because of arthritis in my hands, but the knitting actually keeps my fingers nimble, so it's "medically prescribed". How's that for a hobby? =)
  3. Video games. I think enough has been said about these, but I love RPGs and the Wii Fit and I have been friends again lately.
  4. Watching TV. And here's where I have all the writers up in arms, saying that "How can you watch TV, when you have manuscripts to read and things to do?! How can I write and watch TV?" And my simple answer to that is your leaf mold. Yes, leaf mold. One of the things we went through at Odyssey was reading a very, very long essay by Tolkien called "On Fantasy", where he speaks about how everything you absorb through everyday life goes into your collective leaf mold in your brain. And then when you write, you unconsciously pull things out of your brain and use them. So I watch TV. I watch movies on Netflix. I watch Japanese dramas that are currently airing in Japan. I watch anime. I have a terrible love of American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance. Alton Brown and Good Eats is perpetually recorded on my DVR. I don't spend all my time watching TV, not by any means, but at least for me, it's stress-relieving and not always mindless. Plus, sooner or later, it all gets pulled out of my collective leaf mold.
And that's four things from me. So, my question to all of you! What do you do other than writing and why do you like to do it? Do you feel any of it makes you a better writer? Do you disagree with me about watching TV? Debate away!


TamiJean said...

I'd love to know your ratatouille recipe!

I love to cook and try a new recipe every week. I'm trying to learn how to knit, but it's slow going. I'll get there, and then I'll be a sock-making fool. For now, each stitch is accompanied by the Absurd Facial Expression Of Extreme Concentration And Balance.

I recently stopped playing World of Warcraft, but have picked up Viva Pinata and Rock Band instead.

We also watch a lot of movies and select tv shows, and I do a small amount of art (colored pencil and inks).

We joke that I've never met a hobby I didn't like, but I find that it's nice to be able to use different parts of my brain when I need a break from constant writing.

Blythe said...

I don't knit, but I find the ¡AntiCraft! irresistible. I like to paint; I keep free-range children; I watch television, I sit on a dingy couch in my backyard and watch birds and clouds; mostly though, I read.

The Screaming Guppy said...

Go go girl gamer! :)

Have you played Mass Effect? And are you dying to play Dragon Age: Origins? :D (I love Bioware.)

Oh and if you want a classic, best RPG ever, you should check out Planescape: Torment. My favorite of all time.

The Screaming Guppy said...

Oh, and yes. I feel like video games and movies (sometimes TV) help get my mind cooking.

For me, any of these things can get me excited and push me to write the next scene. Kind of like an adrenaline boost for writing. :)

Stephen Duncan said...

You've caught me in the same mood, I think. Usually I just lurk...

1. Cooking - I get the same creative juices going here as, well, anywhere. Love cookbooks, too. Best yet, IMHO - Frank Stitt's Southern Table. Man, that's some fun stuff.

2. Video games - Just ask my wife how awesome it is listening to me shout obscenities at Call of Duty all the time. There's got to be a more constructive way for a 33 year old to pass the time.

3. Soccer. Still play it. Still watch it. Though, at 33, I'm seeing diminished results playing against 20 year olds. Having a kid, whose biggest stress in life is a term paper deadline, run circles around you while he sweats out last's nights case of Budweizer is beginning to lose its appeal.

4. Travel. More of a luxury, I guess. The more off the path, the better.

Kristin Laughtin said...

I sew and sometimes I bead. Not a lot anymore, but I like making things I can wear. (It just gets time-consuming, and I've got work and school and writing to focus on.)

I like video games as well, particularly RPGs, although I don't play as many as I used to, again due to the time required.

And I agree with you on TV and the leaf mold. I don't watch a lot of TV, but when I do (or watch movies), I find myself coming away with more inspiration for stories than I get by just reading. I think it's because reading takes longer; it may take me several days to read a novel, but in a few hours I can watch a whole movie of story, so I get more quantity in less time. (We can argue about quality, but there are great movies and bad movies just as there are books that inspire me and books that don't.) Plus, everyone needs time to relax. Anyone who argues otherwise is, I suspect, a little too tightly-wound.

Kristine Overbrook said...

I work full time and run a house filled with two kids two dogs and hubby. Does it make me a better writer, maybe.

Sewing. Makes me a better writer? Not really, but it lets me review my WIP while my hands are occupied. Now I just need Dragon so I can "write" while I do these other things.

I do my best writing when I sit with my laptop and watch my hubby/kids play video games.

I watch a lot of TV, more than I really should. Some of my best ideas come when I watch commercials and play what if.

Horserider said...

Riding horses, though I haven't done that in far too long. Because I love horses. I don't think I really need any other reason.

As for the TV thing, I agree. I like to watch TV/movies when I get writers' block or as a reward for writing/revising at the end of the day.

Awesome LaTerry said...

Reading- Unless that doesn't count because it has something to do with writing, since someone had to write the books I read. But I cannot ignore it as it takes up a vast amount of my time.

Video Games- Final Fantasy for the win.

Internet- This probably takes away most of my writing since I have to be on the computer to write and to be on the internet. Usually I have what I'm writing up and several internet windows doing stuff in the background.

Anonymous said...

Coming out of lurkdom to say I love the knitting! I teach the knitting! I'm a Yarnharlot blog follower, yes!

Need to put down the knitting to get back to writing though.

TV is only good for the science fiction, style and food channels. :-)

Tochi said...

I rarely watch TV. The only anime I'm watching right now is Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. The original version was much better though IMO.

Jenny, can you recommend any anime worth watching? Especially recent stuff?

Thank you

Lisa Iriarte said...

I like to play The Sims 3 on my computer. I like all the Sims games, actually. They are extremely addictive.

I read, though that's related to writing, and I suppose that doesn't count.

I do cross-stitch patterns. They are very relaxing and don't require much thought.

Melinda Szymanik said...

Long time lurker, first time commenter here. I love the leaf mould idea and believe it completely, especially as a successful novel idea I had came from a movie and a picture book idea from the TV. Other non-writing activities include cooking and baking and cake decorating, (although decorating not so much now), blogging and internet surfing, reading, walking the dog and sudoku.

And Stephen Duncan, my husband still plays soccer at 45 and his team just won their over 35's division 1 league. Don't stop playing! My advice is avoid the 20 yr olds (which can be applied in many situations - not just soccer).

beth said...

So the Wii Fit is worth the money? I've been on the fence for awhile with it.

What do I like to do other than write? Read! I'm such a nerd.

Also: Project Runway and Castle TV shows have caught my eye.

pj schnyder said...

1. Spinning/Knitting/Crochet - I raise English Angoras and love to blend their wool with sheep or alpaca. Of course, I knit yarn spun by others also and seem to be crocheting a lot of baby blankets for friends lately. o_O

2. Cooking - I like to try new recipes on the weekends and love to make seasonal comfort foods. In fact, I'm pretty sure my love of food carries over into my writing.

3. Gardening - what better way to supply fresh ingredients for seasonal comfort foods than to grow my own? I grow herbs and veggies as well as some more exotic plants for cooking such as kaffir lime, blood orange, lemon grass and ghalanga. I also grow blackberries, raspberries, grapes, cherries and figs. ;)

4. Photography - I love to see the world through a camera lens, capturing memories and beautiful moments. Of course, my two dogs, kitty and the buns make for good subjects.

5. Gaming - just a little. I love Kingdom Hearts and do play WoW once in a while, but I don't raid. When friends are over, we play Rock Band and MarioKart for the Wii. I also play DDR for fun and fitness.

Adam Heine said...

Bass and acoustic guitar. I can't explain why, there's just something about finding a groove in a band that feels AWESOME.

Drawing. This is one of those things I thought I could never be good at. So drawing helps remind me that I can be good at whatever I want to be if I work at it.

Movies, esp. anime, esp. Miyazaki. And I love your leaf mold comment. I can totally relate.

I also want to second Screaming Guppy's endorsement of Planescape: Torment. The game's a little old (10 years), but it's got a fantastic story.

Richmond Writer said...

1. Beer Brewing: Love the dark sweet ones and am currently growing my own hops.

2. Photography: my photos will appear in JRW's conference program, has been in newspapers, and my goal is to get them in a magazine.

3. Creating miniature dollhouses. My Santa's workshop was showcased at Lewis Ginter.

4. Costumes. Much to my children's humiliation I wore mine to Colonial Williamsburg for fun.

jill said...

Horses and riding take up lots of my non-writing spare time. I've found that I use the same portion of my brain for plotting stories and for planning horse-related activities. So, when I'm coaching the high school equestrian team, helping 4-H or pony club, writing slows down. I'm getting better at compartmentalizing it though.

General farm chores take time too (and that pesky full time job!), but mowing weeds with the tractor gives me uninterrupted hours to plot ahead or analyze stories.

Reading - but I try to ration it to prevent neck strain and leave time for writing.

Computer - internet (reading blogs and twitters) and games (Sims 2 and solitaire mostly). Probably doesn't help me get stuff written, but blogs and tweets are full of writing and publishing tips. Making Sims of characters helped me clarify their appearances in my mind, but didn't do anything for plot.

Craft-ish projects - several sewing and embroidery projects waiting for me to have time to finish them. Model horse painting and tack-making projects also waiting for free time.

--Karen H said...

Coming out of lurk:

1. Cooking and baking. Especially bread and pies. Lately, I've taken to canning kosher (kind of--have not had a rabbi bless them) pickles and making jams. Also just experimenting with food.

2. Spinning yarn. Yep, I get the sheep's fleece, wash it, comb it, and spin it on a spinning wheel.

3. Knitting. Using bought yarn. I don't know why, but as much as I love creating yarn and seeing the result, I don't want to knit with my own.

4. Gardening. Huge crop of cucumbers this year. Hence the pickles, above.

5. Watching TV. Eureka, Joss Whedon show reruns, Fringe, etc.

6. Photography. Particularly flowers.

clindsay said...

Raising my hand as a fellow TV lover. Some of the best narrative writing to be found is on TV, just usually not the major networks.

Also - addicted to Amazing Race and American Idol.

danceluvr said...

I attend a water aerobics class every weekday morning, and I schedule all my other activities around it: Dr. appts, writing, surfing the internet, reading, cooking, eating.

If I could still dance, I'd be doing that instead of the aerobics, but since I can't do my favorite activity, I'll do what I can.

Halcyon said...

I love to knit. I do it obsessively. If I'm not writing, I'm not knitting. If I'm writing, I may even be writing ABOUT knitting. ;o)
And I like to knit and watch TV. I don't watch TV and write, though, because the TV is too distracting. If it's on, I simply tune it out.
If I'm not knitting or writing...well, I'm probably reading. :-P