Writers don’t actually have to spend all their time writing to increase their chances of “making it.”
Yes, you do have to write if you want to be a writer. Other things matter too, though. Like being able to solve problems, understand how people feel and think, and learning how to improve at something slowly over time.
You might not think the following skills have anything to do with writing. In a way, you’re wrong.
For many people, games are fun — even if they’re terrible at playing them (not that I know this from experience …). Some games might actually help you get better at problem-solving though, which is an essential skill for writers. Bloggers, for example, do well when they present a problem followed by an ideal solution for their audiences.
No, you shouldn’t spend all of your writing time playing video games to try improving your writing skills. But your time may be better spent actively playing a console or even a tabletop strategy game than watching TV.
It’s definitely handy to be able to use a camera if you want to provide your blog or another creative project with original photos. But that isn’t the only benefit to learning how to capture images through a lens.
Photography forces you to pay attention. It also requires patience, resilence, and a lot of practice. When you’re tired of writing for the day but still want to exercise your creativity, taking photos is one of those forms of art that can still benefit you as a creative human without forcing you to put words to paper.
3. Understanding psychology
You’ve probably heard the concept of “emotional intelligence” mentioned in business books and blogs or on social media. Many writers underestimate how important it is to understand how to read other people’s emotions and respond accordingly.
Whether you’re trying to be sensitive to a specific group of people, write a relatable blog post about a common challenge, or create characters with true depth and drive, understanding the human psyche can give you a major advantage over those who don’t attempt to think far outside their own minds.
4. Playing an instrument
In most cases, being able to play the piano or violin probably won’t get you a writing job. But there’s value in developing a tough skill that can’t be learned or mastered in a matter of weeks.
It can take years to master an instrument, the same way it takes some people decades to finally refine their writing craft finely enough to publish something truly worthwhile. The persistence required bridges both activities. And many people who learn instruments end up writing music, which stretches you even more as a composer of many sorts.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.