I read a very interesting post by Martin Rose yesterday. In it, he talks about writing as a "hobby" and what some of us do when we experience burn out. Basically, he claims that most writers don't think of writing as a hobby, which I agree with.
Hobby implies something you do for enjoyment or relaxation. While writing can be enjoyable and relaxing, most of the time it's not. A writer generally experiences the entire range of emotions when working on a project from excitement to doubt to depression back to excitement and everything in between. There is a lot of stress involved, too, because if you aren't working, you feel like you should be, so then you feel guilty. Or you're anxiously awaiting a response from an editor or publisher, and it's not coming fast enough. You try to stay busy, but that only works for so long! I doubt many people feel that while partaking in their hobby. I'm sure some do, but for the most part, if your hobby stresses you out, you quit doing it.
Writing is more of a compulsion than a hobby. It has it's high highs, which can be very addictive, and some pretty low lows. The difference between a writer and a hobbyist is that the writer has to write. Even if no one reads it or we don't become successful, we can't stop the need/desire to put words on a page. Trust me, I've been there many times. I've wanted to give up, move on to more rewarding things, but I can't. I get sucked back in. And don't get me wrong, I do enjoy it (most of the time). There is something magical about seeing your words, your creation, on the page.
Martin also points out in his blog that writers do have hobbies. But he says that all of these distractions lead to the ultimate goal: to write more. God, that is so true! One of my favorite past times, as I'm sure you know, is watching movies, but there is a hidden motive to that. Recently, the majority of the films I've been watching are research for my nonfiction novel. Yes, I can still watch and enjoy them (well, as much as you can enjoy some of the awful, awful remakes of slasher films), but I'm always thinking about what I will write about them. I don't do this with all the films I watch. I can and do veg out from time to time. I especially do this with certain TV shows that I like. But most of the time, I just sit there thinking: I really should be writing!