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  • Writer's pictureDebra Stang

10 Leisure Activities That Make Me a Better Freelance Writer

Do you remember the scene in The Shining where hapless wife Wendy Torrance sneaks into her husband, Jack's, writing room to try to get a glimpse into his troubled mind? 

Jack, who is supposed to be working on the Great American Novel has typed over and over, "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy."

A couple of scenes later, our "dull boy" has taken to chopping down doors to terrorize his wife and kid. 

Well, I can honestly say I've never gone after anyone with an axe or a knife, but I do become irritable and not much fun to be around if my writing days run so long that I don't have time to do the things I enjoy. These include:

1. Reading. It makes me a better writer because I pick up factoids, styles, ideas, even hints of plot. 

2. Embroidery. After a long day of writing, it really helps me to sit down with my embroidery in my lap. I watch TV (see Number 3) as my hands deftly take over from my mind to create a beautiful image. As anyone who has ever wrangled with an embroidery knot can tell you, it's a great way to learn patience.

3. Television. Yes, I know television is the devil and we should all throw our TVs out the window. That's what some writers will tell you. I don't agree. Television helps me with characterization. Sometimes I'll see a performer in a bit role and just know that that's exactly how my character X would look and talk. Cheating? Maybe. But definitely effective.

4. Fiction Writing. I don't consider the time I spend of fiction as part of my writing work day. Fiction is fun. Those words are just for me unless or until I decide to share them. Working on my fiction on a daily basis keeps my creative juices flowing and makes up for all the times I have to write about subjects I couldn't care less about.

5. Walking. Taking a short walk around the block clears my head and helps me get back into "focus mode."

6. Cats. My cats all enjoy different types of interaction. Leroux, for instance, is a cuddler while Alexander would rather race around the room chasing cat toys. Playing with them eases my tension and makes me laugh.

7. Computer Games. Okay, I admit it. I'm a 40-something woman and I like computer games. Well, some of them, anyway. I love the time management games where you have to figure out how to meet everyone's needs before they leave your place of business forever. I'm also fond of family and society building games like The Sims. And before you ask, yes, I have used Sims characters I've created as characters in my fiction.

8. Friends/Family. The best tonic for me is talking or getting together with friends and family. Most of them are artistic, too, so we visit about what we're writing, drawing, beading, baking, etc. It's a great way to spend an evening.

9. Chocolate. Okay, chocolate doesn't exactly inspire my writing, but it's my favorite food in the whole world, so it retains its #9 spot.

10. Journaling. Every night before I fall asleep, I write down a quick journal account of the day. What was good. What wasn't so good. What I'd like to do better next time. I read my journal over once a week, usually on Sunday, and I'm always amazed at how many good ideas I've recorded in that drowsy time just before sleep hits.

What are some leisure activities that make you a better writer?

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