Hobbies and Interests – Inspiring and Impacting my Writing

10 Day Write Blog Challenge Daily6This post is participating in the 10 Day Writing Blogger Challenge, Day Six.

Today I’m going to do both prompts for the day, as a blogger’s prerogative.

This post will profile a personal hobby of mine, and its inspiration and impact on my writing.

A Creative Fairy

The latest layouts for the family album

As a youngster (don’t I sound old just uttering that word?) I, like most kids, was quickly categorised in school – I was the “creative” nerdy one (amongst other things). The label of creativity came mostly about because I was reasonably good at drawing and art.

Since, I’ve found a commonality in my life with hand and digital crafts.

Hand-crafts: sewing, knitting, paper-crafts, mixed media, painting, miniatures work, you name it – I’ve done it.

Papercrafts quickly became scrapbooking at the beginning and height of the scrapbooking industry. Then I moved onto the web where my writing dream became blogging, and paper-crafts became digital.

Sock Monkey created by me, based on the American Red Heel socks.

I’m a creative fairy, however. I flitter from creative hobby to creative hobby – sometimes one particular interest might last a couple of years, sometimes I have enough of it after a week or month, moving onto something else.

Creative projects, even something like researching for a book, are done in a tsunami-like wave of energy and awesomeness, then I can’t face it again.

One thing that has stuck, however, is digital graphic work – I do our annual photo album digitally as layouts, and enjoy playing with images.

My handcrafting has meant that I have a large stash of equipment, tools and supplies. My studio includes writing equipment and books shared with all the craft stash.

My Latest Creative Craze…

Bee-Bop bear by Josey Freni
Bee-Bop bear by Josey Freni

…is home made teddy bears. To the left is the little alien bear kit that will be created next.

Inspiration and Impact of Crazed Crafting on my Writing

A crafting hobby provides mostly inspiration and incentive.

Being Crafty with your Hands leads to more creativity in your writing. This is a rule! Take my word for it, based on many year’s experience.

Scientific research has proven that doing repetitive (or mindless) work such as knitting or other handcrafts – or even doodling and drawing things like zentangles  (where you can focus on the task then let it develop automatically) relaxes the mind. The offshoot? A relaxed mind opens the way up to creative thoughts, problem solving and stress relief.

The Journal of the American Medical Association produced a study on handcrafts: measuring 30 women (15 experienced and 15 beginner sewers) for their blood pressure, heart and perspiration rates and skin temperature— all gauges of stress — via biofeedback before and after they performed five leisure activities that required similar eye-hand movements.

The results showed that sewing was the most relaxing activity of the five studied: It produced drops in heart rate, blood pressure and perspiration. In contrast, stress measures increased after the women performed the other tasks, especially after playing a card or video game.

According to the study’s author, Robert Reiner, Ph.D., a New York University psychologist, the findings prove what crafters already know: Crafts de-stress. “The act of performing a craft is incompatible with worry, anger, obsession and anxiety,” he says. From Craft to Heal.

And –

In a 1995 study called “The Coincidence of ADHD and Creativity,” Dr. Bonnie Cramer of the University of Georgia compared the scientific data for people considered to be creative to the scientific data for people with ADHD. She found similarities in everything from brain structure to temperament and mood. Both creatives and those with ADHD are underwhelmed by repetitive tasks and “hyper aroused” by spontaneity.

This link between creatives and ADHD doesn’t initially sound that appealing. Especially in the underwhelmed response to repetitive tasks. However, most knitters and other repetitive hand-crafters have long known and used this: sit down and get into a repetitive task such as knitting, and the underwhelm allows the mind to open up to all sorts of thoughts.

I am drawn to crafting and creative work as a natural focus. I don’t intentionally use it to relax, but crafting is one of my guaranteed ways to enter “flow” (lose all sense of time and just enjoy the process) and I know that the feeling can be retained when re-entering my writing work. During my craft projects, my mind works on anything it pleases, but naturally goes to other creative work – resolving writing problems, or working over writing ideas. My muse is amused.

I know that if I’m really stuck on something, spending a day creating a sock monkey, or catching up with some layouts for our family album will provide much more of benefit to me than even going for a walk outdoors.

The biggest impact is time. I tend to do “big” creative projects – days or multiple days worth. This stops writing for that time, but leaving a creative project undone leads to too much distraction, so it’s best to finish it.

Having a craft project which can produce something tangible within a set amount of time can also be both helpful and a hindrance to creative writing. Helpful, because as a novelist, I have to wait a very long time – some say years – before I will see something completed, and my feelings of productivity register with do-able projects like crafts. A hindrance because of the appeal and ease of working on such projects as against writing – which is much harder work.

What about you? Care to share an interest or hobby that both inspires and impacts your writing?

10 Day Write Blog Challenge button150You can signup to respond to this prompt, or nine more days worth, via the 10 Day Writing Blogger Challenge. This question can be found on Day Six.

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