I come from a family who usually need to be doing things. (You can imagine how well ME/CFS goes down!) So if you want to sit down you’ll probably be doing something at the same time. Knit while watching TV, sit and put together a model, be outside and garden. . .
As I mentioned in my introduction, I enjoy most creative pursuits: arts, crafts, writing, baking, gardening. . . and which I do depends a lot on my level of fitness (what stage I’m at in my ME/CFS roller-coaster) All except for art. That I have to do when I’m in the mood for it, and then I can usually suit what I do to my energy level. When I’m properly well I cook/bake every now and again, and if the weather’s nice I’ll be in the garden, although not always doing gardening! I write all the time except when I’m seriously bad or my brain has gone, and I’ll usually have some piece of sewing/knitting/jewellery/cross-stitch around that I’m working on. All this means I end up with a lot of stuff.
Thankfully some things are easier to make use of than others, cooking for example! Cakes and biscuits go quickly around here, as do garden-grown fruit and veg. Clothes I only make when I want something so they get worn, but if I had some reason I’d do more. But other things are harder to deal with. Paintings get hidden in a stack in the corner or a folder on the wardrobe. Stories are usually left on the computer but sometimes printed off and ‘put safely’ on a shelf to gather dust. Animals knitted with oddments of wool are squished on a different shelf. Jewellery sits in boxes. Cross-stitch pictures are framed but then what? There are only so many shelves to put things on compared to years of doing these hobbies. (On an on-and-off basis true, but it still adds up)
So. Although hobbies should first and always be enjoyable, that doesn’t mean you can’t get a little something extra from them too, as long as you make sure the fun stays. This could involve selling items you make, but it doesn’t have to. Below are a few ideas, most of which I’ve tried at one time or another – be warned, some of them require a certain commitment and/or standard of ability. I would like to say it doesn’t hurt to try, but that would be a lie. It can hurt if you’re rejected, but if your efforts result in a purpose/outlet, mightn’t that be worth it?
Share. There are places online that let you share work for free, either on their site or you could make your own. As an example of each, DeviantArt “is the world’s largest online social community for artists and art enthusiasts“, while Wordpress lets you make your own site. Putting your work out in the world can be a scary thing, but it also gives the possibility of feedback, both positive and negative and both of which might help you improve. You could gain confidence, connect with people of similar interests. . . If you put yourself out there you might be surprised.
Donate. If your hobby leaves you with physical items, you could donate them to craft fairs/charity raffles/hospitals/etc. . . It might involve contacting several places to find out if they’re interested, but there are plenty of possibilities. You can also offer your time, knowledge or skills – offer to teach a class or do some work for free or for travel expenses.
Gifting. Instead of buying gifts for people, give them something you have made. It might not be perfect but they will hopefully appreciate the extra thought and effort that has gone into it. This might also encourage you to try something you haven’t before – if you do woodwork and usually make furniture, you could try making a toy for a younger family member. Enjoy baking? As a change from cakes you could attempt sweets, jams, preserves, or fruity drinks.
Use around the home. If you have a hobby that ends with a physical item and you’re happy to have people see your work, then make things for around the home. If you do something like sewing, knitting, or cross-stitch, then make a cushion cover. Or buy a plain cover and decorate it. Artists and photographers, hang your own work instead of buying a picture. Finished cross-stitch can be framed and hung too. In fact you can probably find a way to display the result of any hobby that ends with a physical item.
Enter competitions. Most of the competitions about are for art, photography, or writing. . . but there are others if you look for them, maybe associated with a shop or organisation, a special-interest magazine, or a local group for that hobby. Some competitions will have fees.
Barter. This means exchanging goods or services without the use of money. For example, if you garden and grow vegetables, you might swap an overabundance of beans for some else’s extra of plums. And it doesn’t have to be like for like. It could be a handmade piece of clothing for a triple-layer cake, a basket for a few plant seedlings. . . you get the idea!
Join a group/club. Instead of doing your hobby on your own you could join up with others. It gets you out of the house and socialising, you might be encouraged to stretch your skills, make new friends, and even end up involved in related outings that the group organises. The group might together hire a table at a craft fair – something you might not like or be able to do on your own.
Selling. This is pretty self-explanatory, although there are many different outlets these days. Some people sell at the front gate, go to craft fairs or car-boots, through friends or work colleagues, online. In my opinion, the best place for selling online is Etsy. (They do charge a small fee for listings and take a percentage of sales)
I wish I could do more with my hobbies. Isn’t that strange? They give me enjoyment, an amount of purpose and usefulness, encourage me to keep active and use my brain , and yet I still wish for more. The trouble with anything creative is that appreciation is subjective – everyone likes what they like so there’s always going to be someone who doesn’t like what you do. And having constant rejections can be disheartening. Or, maybe I really am just bad at things! I enjoy doing them though, and that’s the main thing. For anyone out there with a creative bug, I hope one of these suggestions might encourage you to try sending your work out into the world. Best of luck!