I may be biased because part of me is that typical extrovert who thrives when I’m surrounded by other people, but I’ve come to firmly believe that for me at least (and I’m guessing, for many of you), that taking time to pursue my hobbies becomes harder and harder by the year. It’s so incredibly easy to say you’re going to devote time to something and then completely skip right over it. A few of my friends and I were bemoaning this fact the other week. We talked about how hobbies were so important when we were kids. Remember hobbies? The question used to not be, “What do you do?”, but instead, “What are your hobbies?” I miss that question. I’m going to try to bring it back. Join me, alright? The next time you meet someone, be sure to ask them about their hobbies :).
Two of my hobbies are reading and writing, as you can probably guess, but the trouble is that it’s actually a struggle to take time to do either of these (even for a Storyologist, guys – I’m keeping it real). I’ve found that for me, forming groups can really help. That community + accountability is the perfect equation. I’ve formed two groups over the past few years.
Ever since college I’ve wanted to start a book club. I missed those rich, deep discussions that we had in my English literature classes. I tried to find already-established book clubs that I liked, but many of them were genre-based, and I wanted more freedom and variety in what I read. So I started my own, inviting my friends, and inviting them to bring their friends of friends. Over two years later, book club is still going strong, I read at least one new book a month, and I get to drink wine and eat delicious food with while having these rich discussions about books.
I recently decided that I wanted to take steps to overcome my fear of writing creatively on my own. Yes, myself as a Storyologist, can you believe it? As with the book club, I tried a few writing groups myself first, and wanted something different for myself. I wanted to create a safe space where everyone could share their writing, their process, and share the often-solitary writing life together. I put together a small group of powerful, creative women, and boom, writing club was born. We get together once a month, give a few writers feedback, and drink wine and eat delicious food. (I’ve found that one key to these groups tends to be the wine and food :).)
So if you’re thinking of either joining a group or starting one up, I have a few tips that came to mind:
- In-person: For me, I’ve found that in-person works the best. I know that online is the easiest, but I’ve found that the actual human contact and accountability is the most fulfilling.
- Group dynamics: Think about who will work best together in your group. You don’t necessarily need to invite all of your friends. Those who are the most committed and passionate about the topic should be the ones standing out. I love inviting friends of friends, because you’re meeting new people, while also having someone who can vouch that the new person will fit in well.
- Democratic Process: Just because you’re starting a group doesn’t mean you’re the boss. In fact, groups usually run better if decisions are made jointly. Case in point: in my book club group, we’ve come up with a few different ways to pick books that were so much better crowd-sourced than coming from me, and in my writing group, our feedback process is developing so well with all opinions involved. Several heads are always better than one.
- Plan: If you don’t plan ahead, especially with multiple people, the group won’t happen. I’ve found that planning at least 2 months ahead works best – and if possible, devoting a certain day of the month that will be reliable (aka, the 3rd Wednesday of every month), is a much better guarantee of attendance.
- It’s all about the food: Seriously, it really is all about the food. Without goodies, the conversation won’t flow as easily, people won’t have as great of a time, and it won’t be such a repeat occasion. For my book club, we try to bring food that’s themed to the book! You don’t have to go all out, but try to make it festive.
Why does any of this matter? Well, my firm belief in the simplest sense is that hobbies are part of what makes you happy. Why not take more steps towards what makes you happy, while forming amazing communities?
Have you formed a group that supports your hobbies? I would love to hear what’s worked well for you in the comments below!