Posts Tagged hobbies
For a long time — since I was around 13 — I’ve enjoyed creative writing. The form has varied over the years, from poems to short stories to novels, but one way or another, writing has been part of my life for a long time.
Over the tail end of my doctorate, creative writing inevitably dropped out of my life (along with music, hiking, cooking, free time and happiness ) — writing a thesis requires a special level of dedication. But even before that intense writing up phase, there was a distinct drop in the amount of time I devoted to creative writing.
I’ve now been in my new job for a few months, and — having completed the banalities of settling in and learning my way around — I’m in a position where I have a little time to myself once again. But I’m still struggling to return to writing, and I wonder why.
Here’s one theory:
Now (and during much of my PhD), I’m carrying out a much more creative day-job than was the case when studying at school and college, or doing an undergraduate Computer Science degree. In the summer after my first year studying CS, I couldn’t do enough creative writing. I’d spent a year learning lots of very cool Computer Science things — formal methods, computer architecture, data structures and algorithms — it was all very logical. Most of what I wrote was code! A few tasks required producing prose, but they weren’t the emphasis (and what prose I wrote was generally concise, concerning logical matters — no real creative leaps).
Of course, I would passionately argue that there is creativity in computer science and software engineering — but when learning the fundamentals, it’s all pretty logical and straightforward.
By the end of that first year at university, I was desperate to let off some creative steam, which is why over that summer I wrote most of my first novel: the process itself was challenging, but finding the time and energy was not.
I wrote two further novels as an undergrad, although as I advanced through the course more interesting and creative problems emerged and my creative energies were dissipated a little more.
Now it’s completely different. My job is about thinking creatively: planning and conducting experiments, and of course writing them up and disseminating the results. There are non-creative components (the role of comms chair of DESIRE’11 springs to mind!), but really I have to be creative in some way or another every day.
Which I love.
But maybe that’s why I’m less enthused about writing lately: my job requires creativity, and (although I hasten to point out my publications are not fiction!) I write a significant amount of prose day-to-day, too.
I suspect there’s another factor. When I was an undergraduate, I was part of a creative writing group that met regularly. The social aspect was pleasant, but there was also real value in having a prompt to get on with writing! Now I’m in a Dutch-speaking country, working at an engineering-focused university: it’s not surprising I haven’t found a similar group here.
A third factor: time! I work pretty long days. By the time I’m home from work and have sorted out dinner and the like, time is getting on and my energy levels are low.
So, factors are a creative job, lack of a writing group, and less free time. If anyone else has run into this, or can think of other facets, I’d love to hear!