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Creative outlets for the chronically bored

Updated on November 22, 2011

Got some time to kill? Here are a few fun and easy ways to fend off boredom, while expanding your creative horizons. Try one or all, but be careful. Some of them can quickly become addictive, and I am not aware of any support groups for hobby addiction.

Several years ago I found myself unable to work, for medical reasons. Fortunately, insurance was able to cover most of my bills. On the surface, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to spend more time with my family. But with the kids in school and my wife at work, I had countless hours to kill in a quiet empty house.

Sounds like a dream come true, right? Turns out, daytime tv is a veritable entertainment desert, dotted with the occasional oasis on the history channel. And you can only vacuum a tiny house just so many times. Usually by 9 a.m., I found myself asking "what can I do now?".

I had spent several years working obscene amounts of hours ( many weeks I logged over a hundred hours at work), and I had precious little time for anything else. With all this new found "leisure" time, I needed to find a hobby before I lost my mind.

Idle hands are the Devil's workshop

That's what my mother always said. I don't know if that's true, but I do know that it makes for a very long day. With this in mind, I set about trying things that I had always found interesting, but never had time for.

First on the list was learning to play guitar. I had spent much of my youth as a professional musician, so this seemed like a natural choice. I even had an old electric guitar that I had bought and never taken out of the box.

If you are going to teach yourself, as I did, You will quickly find that you need some resources. Chord charts and tablature are easy enough to find online, but these are some of the resources that I found helpful. You may have to get past the ads to get to the free stuff, though.

Tuning your giutar

How to read tablature

Free chords

The list goes on...

My biggest problem is that when I get good at something, I get bored with it. As I am a fairly quick learner, and I had lots of time on my hands, It only took a few months to learn enough to master any songs that struck my fancy, and the guitar went right back in the closet.

Over the course of two years, I went through several hobbies in this manner, and it occurred to me that I was probably not the only person in this boat. So I have compiled a short list of hobbies that I have tried, which you may not have considered. Most of them are fairly inexpensive to start out, and not too difficult to learn.

First up is writing. Obviously you have considered this one, or you wouldn't be on Hubpages. I thought I would mention it, since it is my most recent hobby, and almost free to get started. If you're not already a member of Hubpages, I highly recommend it. You can write about just about anything you like, and have the opportunity to learn from some of the finest and friendliest people you are likely to meet. Just click here to sign up for free.

Next is wood carving. This is a hobby best saved for the warmer months unless you have a heated workshop, or you enjoy vacuuming wood shavings out of your rugs. I usually just sit on my front porch and whittle a la Jed Clampett.

You can spend as little as 15 or 20 dollars to get started with a basic carving knife, and a couple of patterns. As you progress, you can spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on equipment and supplies.

My first project was a fish, but you can find patterns for just about any subject matter, or just carve whatever inspires you. The only instruction I was able to get came in the form of the sage words of wisdom of the craft store owner from whom I bought my supplies. I quote: "You take this here piece of wood, and you cut off anything that don't look like a fish." That turned out to be fair advice. As the non-fishy wood came off, I was left with pretty nice looking blue gill. If you learn how to airbrush, you can add a lot of realism to your creations, but that's a whole other hobby.

It's not all that difficult to find free patterns for woodcarving online. You may be on your own in the instruction department, but I think it's more fun to discover things on my own, anyway.

If you stick with it, you can carve pretty much anything your mind can dream up. Whether you are interested in relief carving, or freehand whittling there is sure to be something to hold your interest for a while.

The blurry picture above (my camera is not very good) is of my first project. It came with my starter kit, and took about 8 hours to complete.

The pictures below, are some of the free patterns I found at the Tandy leather website. If you browse this site, you can find everything you need to get started. If there is a Tandy location near you, they also offer affordable classes.

Over the years, leathercraft has evolved from the simple wallet and belt designs with which you are probably most familiar. The most skilled artists are doing sculpture, and even portraits.

As you hone your skills, this hobby can become addictive. Regardless your of level of expertise, there are always more difficult and complex patterns to explore. If you get very good, you don't even need patterns. I have found that if you can trace a photo onto leather, you can carve a fairly accurate reproduction.

Variety, and versatility are the main reasons that I have not abandonned this hobby, even after five years.

Get into leather

Leathercraft is one of the more rewarding hobbies I have tried. After you finish your project, you can do more than just put it on the table and admire your handywork. I would look pretty silly carrying a wooden fish around with me, but my wallet (my first project in leather) has endured several years of abuse, and still looks pretty good.

The only limitation is your imagination, and the amount of time you wish to devote. As you become more proficient, you may find that people become interested in purchasing the items that you make. I have had many people ask to buy my leather projects, as well as my wood carvings. I think with a little hard work and ambition, you could probably even carve out a niche on Ebay.

Go fish

Last on the list,for now, is fishing. It's not exactly a creative outlet, but it is, by far, my most enduring hobby. Your choices are nearly limitless as far as equipment. This will largely depend on what type of fish you plan to pursue.

For the beginner, I recommend basic bobber fishing. This gives you the opportunity to watch the fish as they react to your bait, and learn to watch for subtle signs that a fish is interested.

In addition, fishing allows you to relax and enjoy the beauty around you. For me, catching fish is often secondary to watching the drama that is nature unfold before me.

Catch and release should be the order of the day. I'm not against keeping a few fish for dinner, but I think it's wise to throw some back for the next angler to enjoy.

Even if you catch the elusive "fishzilla", there's no need to kill it to hang on your wall. With photos and a few accurate measurements, a skilled taxidermist can fabricate a perfect replica for the wall, while your trophy catch swims on to grow even larger.

Have fun!

I believe that if you possess any creativity whatsoever, it can be adapted across many artistic media. You may not be the next DaVinci, but a little patience brings great rewards. Above all else, have fun with it. If you become aggravated by slow progress, it's not relaxing anymore.

If you have an interesting hobby that I haven't mentioned, I'd love to hear about it. Sooner or later I'm going to be in the market for a new one. I always seem to end up in that boat. Hmm.Maybe I should try my hand at boat building next. I've just found some free boat plans, and summer is on the way!


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    • Tim_511 profile image

      Tim_511 7 years ago from Huntington, WV

      I can concur with the guitar and leatherworking hobbies. Those are both great! You have to be able to play with other people to make guitar interesting, though. There are times when I may not pick my guitar up for a while because there is no one to play with.

      Woodcarving is one idea I haven't given much thought to recently. It sounds interesting.

    • profile image

      wood carving knives 7 years ago

      Wow , men thank you for sharing

    • profile image

      SurfChicago 8 years ago

      Just came across your site - love, love, love the flowered leather piece. You have inspired me!

    • profile image

      DubyaG 8 years ago

      I too like leatherworking. But recently, I've combined fishing with kayaking to make every fishing trip a new adventure. You can do both in lakes, streams, and even beyond the breakers at the beach for a real adventure and you get to go where the boats can't go.

    • rmr profile image

      rmr 9 years ago from Livonia, MI

      Not at all. I may have oversold the point, when I wrote the hub. It was one of my first, and I was trying to re-acquaint myself with writing.

    • Christoph Reilly profile image

      Christoph Reilly 9 years ago from St. Louis

      Point taken. Didn't mean to offend you.

    • rmr profile image

      rmr 9 years ago from Livonia, MI

      Thanks for the comment, Chris. I guess I should point out that I didn't master the guitar. Just about a dozen or so songs, that I had always wanted to learn. I have been told that I have a certain amount of natural musical ability, and if you have enough tabs, and 6 or 8 hours a day to kill, almost anything is possible. Also, don't forget thet I was already a musician. I could read music, and play several other instruments. I'd say that gave me a bit of an advantage, over a pure beginner.

    • Christoph Reilly profile image

      Christoph Reilly 9 years ago from St. Louis

      RMR: Wow! That fish and the leather stuff is AMAZING! No kidding, man! You are one talented Dude! I'm having a little trouble buying into the guitar stuff though. Did you really master any song that struck your fancy? Did you ever fancy anything other than "Michael Row the Boat Ashore?" Seriously, if you mastered the guitar in 3 months, you should be on one of those "Idiot-Savant" shows. Like Rain Man with a guitar!

      No, but really, I'm very impressed. Very. (Time for Judge Wapner, time for Judge Wapner.) Any new hobbies since then. Nuclear fission...anything?

      I had to check: First Eagle (above) hasn't been on in awhile.

    • First Eagle profile image

      First Eagle 9 years ago


      I know it is important to get a hobbie. Because going alone in the house thhe all day is boring, an make you more sick.

      First Eagle, Thor Einar

    • In The Doghouse profile image

      In The Doghouse 9 years ago from California


    • rmr profile image

      rmr 9 years ago from Livonia, MI

      You are too kind! I would be honored!!

    • In The Doghouse profile image

      In The Doghouse 9 years ago from California


      This Hub is awesome...if you don't mind, I am adding a link over to it from my Hub.... Thanks for the comment, which led me here. lol

    • rmr profile image

      rmr 10 years ago from Livonia, MI

      Lifebydesign, you are a writer! How much more artistic can you get?

    • Lifebydesign profile image

      Lifebydesign 10 years ago from Australia

      Wish I was as artistic- great tips btw

    • rmr profile image

      rmr 10 years ago from Livonia, MI

      Kind of you to say. I do hope you plan on joining the fun here at hubpages!

    • profile image

      the3rdalien 10 years ago

      Having listened to some of your music, and now seeing some of your craftmanship, I have to say that you are quite the artist. You are very talented.

    • profile image

      luvnlyf 10 years ago

      That fish was awesome! Back home (Palau) they still carry on a similar tradition. When the Japanese occupied our island years ago, they taught our people how to preserve ancient legends by carving the stories out on wood (aka storyboards). Your fish carving would rival some of the best I've seen back home! You should do carved portraits!!

    • trish1048 profile image

      trish1048 10 years ago

      LOVED your hub! You are so funny! 'fishzilla' ??? I sat here cracking up, and I absolutely love your comment about there not being a need to hang it on the wall! I never understood that,,,animal heads, stuffed, mounted, ugh! Taking a picture would be a much kinder way of being proud of what you've done, in my opinion.

      Speaking of fish, I too have found that I am drawn to nicely carved fish, or redware with fish on it. I only have a few 'fishy' things, but find them most charming.

      Since you seem to like wood carving, perhaps you could try your hand at bird houses, then place them in your yard and become a 'bird watcher', which could then lead to photography, and once you've taken several lovely pictures of nature at its finest, you could then custom make your own frames for the pictures! Just a thought,,

      One of my hobbies, or should I say, addictions, is buying old, shabby, decrepit items and 'saving' them from the dump! Many have found a place in my home, however, this can be dangerous. If it gets too out of hand, you might find you have to then build yourself a new house to contain your treasures! There's an ambitious hobby! House building! or, perhaps design? I have found, in my search for old things, that I am particularly drawn to vintage lamps. I have several in my home and they are just lovely! My 'lamp man' has commented that I have an excellent eye for lamps that are actually costly when new. I once found a lamp at a fleamarket, just the lamp, no finial, shade. I took it to him to have it re-wired and to pick out a nice shade/finial, and he asked me where did you buy it? I said at the fleamarket, for a whole $3. Well, turns out the lamp was a certain manufacturer's lamp (whose name escapes me now) and that when it was new, which was well over 50 years ago, it was worth $75. Not bad for a $3 purchase and a $30 investment in a shade/finial. Anyway, I am now rattling, but had to share my thoughts with you. I will be reading your hubs in the future!

      Thanks for sharing!


    • rmr profile image

      rmr 10 years ago from Livonia, MI

      Thanks for the kind comments. It's always nice to know that someone is interested in what you have to say.

    • Angela Harris profile image

      Angela Harris 10 years ago from Around the USA

      Wow, beautiful craftsmanship. What fun ideas.

    • Rhym O'Reison profile image

      Rhym O'Reison 10 years ago from Crowley, Tx

      I don't think someone becomes an artist just because they find they have too much time on their hands. I would love if it WERE true, though. You are the real deal.

    • rmr profile image

      rmr 10 years ago from Livonia, MI

      dafla, I have never sold a carving, due to a catch-22 situation. Every time I look at my work, I see something I should have done differently. If it's not perfect, I will not sell it. On the other hand, if it is perfect, I would not be able to part with it. I guess I just have no future in sales.

    • rmr profile image

      rmr 10 years ago from Livonia, MI

      G-Ma, with your jack of all trades comment, you have described me to a tee. I know a little bit about a wide array of subjects (just enough to be dangerous), but I consider myself to be an expert on precious little. Glad you enjoyed the hub. Thanks!

    • profile image

      dafla 10 years ago

      Beautiful work and great hub! I love fish, fishing, and anything water related. Have you sold any of your carvings? That seems like it would be a great source of income.

    • G-Ma Johnson profile image

      Merle Ann Johnson 10 years ago from NW in the land of the Free

      Oh dear oh My  I love your fish and your leather work. Have tried both..well that's not true not carving in wood, but scrolling with a scrolling saw  and loved it..did many..wish I could show some...Have done leather long ago..Jack of all trades and Master of None. Knit, crochet , make cards and calendars and have fished and crabbed..still bored though with- out my Love.  Nothing seems fun anymore....Oh poor me I know what a baby I am.  Loved photography too ,especially black and white...even developed my own film and printed several..Tried a few contest..but alas no winners.  Have done stained glass and make several things and went to craft shows with it. Make lamps and hanging window forms etc.  Now Hubs are my intertainment... See what you've done to me? Made me rattle on endlessly...but oh well I liked your hub so much couldn't help myself.  G-Ma :o) hugs

    • rmr profile image

      rmr 10 years ago from Livonia, MI

      Thank you, C.S. And you're right. There is something comfortable about them. Watching them swim around an aquarium is great relaxation. Thanks for the comment.

    • C.S.Alexis profile image

      C.S.Alexis 10 years ago from NW Indiana

      I did a little relief carving and my first couple of projects were also fish!I guess I like fish. There is something comfortable about them.Sounds crazy but whatever. I liked this hub. Thanks.

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image

      Zsuzsy Bee 10 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      It's not sad to know about fish etc...I grew up in a home where the main TV shows were based on Jaques Cousteau this and Red Fischer that...fisch have been on my "plate" every way possible. So its refreshing to see others have the same.

      again great Hub zs

    • rmr profile image

      rmr 10 years ago from Livonia, MI

      Zsuzsy, You're always the first to comment on my hubs. Thank you for that. Sadly, fish are one of the few things I know much about. To extend the fish motiff, I also have several aquariums (aquaria?). Perhaps with boat building I can create the perfect marriage of two hobbies.

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image

      Zsuzsy Bee 10 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      rmr! What made you want to carve fish? Is that all you've tried? Funny you want to carve them and also "hunt" for them (angling). And now boat building; again to do with fishing? If I remember right you even wrote a hub about fish. Are you fish obsessed?????

      Just kidding I love the hub. Great HUB regards Zsuzsy


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