1. Wood Carving
From a block of wood and some simple carving tools, you can create the most beautiful pieces of artwork. The similarity between writing and wood carving is that you start with a blank and fill it in with imagery or words.
Many people find hiking to be a very inspiring hobby that not only sparks creativity, but gives writers the exercise they need. Hiking trips can be planned ahead of time, alone or with groups. The only things you really need are a good pair of hiking boots and thick socks. If you are hiking alone, take pen and paper along with you for those spur of the moment inspirations.
3. Jewelry Making
Jewelry making is a very relaxing hobby that allows you to explore different colors and bead shapes. Make period pieces or take a dive into steampunk. Create jewelry for every mood and season.
4. Bird Watching
Bird watching is not only a relaxing hobby, it also puts you in touch with interesting people who share the same hobby. Learn about the birds you spot, learn the myths surrounding their existence, as well as the old superstitions, and weave the hobby into your next series of mystery novels.
It doesn’t matter if you can’t pick up a pencil and draw the shape of a horse to perfection. When you paint, the rules of drawing go out the window. Find artists that inspire you and learn different techniques. Explore different mediums and use what you learn in your next book.
Gardening can be very relaxing and buying flower and herb plants for the garden is exciting. Gardening can inspire your writing in many ways, from the lore and superstitions to gardening as an occupation.
Running burns off excess energy and the day to day stress of writing. You don’t have to run for miles or enter into a marathon to enjoy the benefits of running. Many writers enjoy this hobby as a way to clear the mind and to come up with new ideas.
8. Video Games
Yes, video games. They aren’t as bad as we are made to think. I enjoy playing the Elder Scroll games and find them to be relaxing as well as inspiring.
Stretch, pull, twist, and relax. Yoga is a calming and physically beneficial hobby that can inspire many ideas. Some writers I know practice yoga every morning before they sit down to write. They find that it helps them prepare for the day mentally and it increases their creativity.
I knit between between articles and blog posts. Lately, I have been knitting hats to donate to a women’s crisis center. Knitting is one of the ways that I “cool down” after I finish writing something or after I hit a certain word count on my book. It’s a moment of relaxation and knowing that I am giving back by donating my knitted items to those in need.
Do you have problems creating believable dialogue or getting your characters to interact casually? Acting can help you with that. From setting the scene to the creating the mood, acting lessons and trying out for stage plays will give you a deeper insight into the building blocks of story telling.
12. Candle Making
A lot goes into making candles. There’s more than one kind of wax, numerous different colors, wicks, and candle scents. Then there is the shape of the candle. You can use pre-made candle molds or you can make your own, original molds. By the time you are finished, you will have a beautiful candle to light up and create the right atmosphere for your next book.
Sometimes you just got to get up and move about. Dance alone, learn to dance by DVD, or take a dance class. You never know when you can put some dancing into your story.
Genealogy will take you down many roads, from family stories and strangely beautiful photos to wars and forgotten customs. Researching your family’s past will open your eyes up to the world and the lives of the past. All of this is great inspiration for novels of all genres.
Cooking has long been a hobby of mine, and it is what landed me my job at About.com as the bread baking expert.
Cooking not only sparks creativity, it is also tied in with your production levels. You can cook in bulk and prepare meals ahead of time so that you have plenty of healthy meals to heat up while you are working on a writing project.
16. Model Building
Model building isn’t the popular hobby it used to be, but the things you can build will spur an endless array of story ideas. There are model kits for so many things, from buildings and ships to rockets and cars. Any item you build can inspire a story or several.
17. Playing an Instrument
Were you in a band back in school? Have you ever had an interest in learning to play an instrument? Learning to play an instrument takes time and determination, but it can also be a very relaxing and enjoyable experience.
Years ago, when my two oldest children were small, I would sew them costumes for playtime and for Halloween. Dressing up and creating a magical world for them was fun and enabled me to write up a number of sewing articles. Now that I have a new little one, I am getting back into sewing costumes and dreaming of magical things.
Staring up at the stars at night and learning the myths surrounding the constellations is a beautiful way to use your free time. This hobby can inspire numerous book ideas, from science fiction to tales of mythic proportion.
20 Ghost Hunting
Heading out and searching local haunts will not only inspire your creativity, you will also learn about local history and catch up on old gossip. Many ghost hunters have turned to writing books, both nonfiction and fiction.