What’s the importance of making story writing a hobby?

When I first started writing as a career, I found that I ‘wrote out’ a lot of things from my past. Okay, I’ve had an easy, comfortable life but, like with everyone, there were a few things that were best gotten rid of mentally. And those memories made great stories.

Then I became a pro and learned that part of being a pro is mentoring new writers and that’s when I learned that what I’d done in the beginning is the norm and is done so much that I now (privately!) call the first part of any writer’s professional journey the ‘cathartic’ phase of their career. And those memories make great stories.

I can’t count the times I’ve read stuff by a new/emerging writer that was based on their life and that was something they had to get out of their system before going on to other subjects. And some of the best writers in history never made the transition. Think Sinclair Lewis and other American writers of that same period. And they were great stories.

The thing is, I’ve seen the same thing happen among people who enjoy writing as a hobby with no intention of ever becoming pros. Because everyone has something to write about that’s based on their life.

Because writing is cathartic. And healing. And even if you had a wonderful life, remembering all that stuff from your past is also fun. And makes great stories even if you are the only person to read those stories.

And when that cathartic phase of your writing journey is completed and you are ready to go beyond your own past and present, stretching your imagination and letting it soar is fun! And makes for great stories even if you are the only person who ever reads them.

How do I identify whether an article has or lacks depth?

Not the usual type of question that I answer because it has nothing to do with the craft of writing fiction. But it’s something that I feel passionately about. So here goes —

There is no definitive way to know if an article has depth unless you are an expert on the subject of the article. Because depth means going into specifics that no one would know unless they were an expert.

You can check as to whether the article is full of specifics. Whether it gives comparisons. Whether it lists pros and cons. Whether it quotes experts. And so on. Whether it contains the things that would seem to indicate actual knowledge of the subject.

What you can’t do — unless you do a whole lot of research — is know if those things are credible or whether the author is simply blowing smoke in your face to make you think he/she knows what the article is about.

So credibility is all up to the reader.

As a caveat, it’s a sad commentary on communication today that so many people are willing to accept any statement that they agree with as fact without checking the veracity of the statement. I suspect that a lot of the divisiveness we see today in the media and elsewhere could be avoided if people would spend the time to actually do a bit of fact-checking.