Best Hobbies for Writers:

Notebook gathering, pen-picking, and word-collecting



Photo by Jelleke Vanooteghem on Unsplash

Different Fun for Different Folks


Some people love sports. They flock to stadiums and arenas wearing the colors of their team like armor. They bivouac in parking lots before gathering their troops and marching toward the battle. They sing war songs and shout encouragement to the soldiers who have won their loyalty.


Other people get excited about the stock market, projecting, predicting, studying, charting. They use terms like bull and bear and bonds. They focus daily on the Dow, the NASDAQ, and Blue Chips. They talk of ups and downs as if their lives depended on it. (They probably do.)


Shoppers take immense pleasure in the aesthetic beauty of material things, contemplating color, style, fit, and availability. Coupons, sales, percentages, deals and doorbusters are part of the vernacular.


Cars, art, music, decorating, sewing, crafting, movies, coins, golf, historical re-enactments, running, beer-can collecting, photography, painting, calligraphy, jewelry-making, mushrooming and dancing.


Lots of cool hobbies for lots of interesting people.


But for me, it’s all about language.


My name’s Melissa, and I’m a wordaholic.


Don’t get me wrong. I have other hobbies, too.


Like notebook gathering.

Julia Joppien on Unsplash

I’ve been at it for years, compiling notes into dozens and dozens of notebooks. I love to make notes by hand, filling pages and pages with ideas and freewriting. I save quotes, conversations, and conflicts. I journal about feelings, dreams, and prayers.


Notebooks in leather. Notebooks in fabric and cardboard and canvas. Decorated with wild art on the front or sophisticated and muted in soothing, solid hues. I go through phases where I prefer spiral-bound, large ones to smaller, bound books with lined pages. Then I’ll be lovestruck by tiny moleskin pocket-sized notepads.


(Check out my all-time favorite picture from Unsplash and Julia Joppien. I use it frequently because it is SO me!)




And then there’s pen-picking.


I can spend an hour perusing the rack of pens at any store. I covet colored gel pens. I long for smooth barrels. I’ve weighed the worth of finger cushions, quiet-clickers, and erasable ink.


“What magnificent words will I produce if I used that one?” Or that one? Or that brand?”


So I buy several, seduced by the mere idea of word-production.


After all that choosing, there’s only one.


My words are stymied if I have to write with a Bic or a Papermate. And heaven forbid if I have to write with black ink.


I write best with the Tul gel pen, blue ink, medium point. My pen-picked implement of choice after many years of searching.



Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Notebook gathering and pen-picking can’t compare to word-collecting.


“Mom, you’re a dork!” my daughters used to say. They pointed out that I am a weird nerd who doesn’t get excited about the right things (like athletic events). I’m someone who is irreversibly twisted because I get excited about silly things (like language).


But word collecting beats everything.


It costs nothing.A free and abundant supply of words exists everywhere.It doesn’t take hours to do it.You don’t have to plan ahead.No tickets to purchase, memberships to pay for, or green fees.


Once you collect words, you can play with them forever.You don’t get sweaty or dirty while collecting them.Words make you laugh.


And laughter is good.


Take these quotes, puns, and wordplay that I’ve collected over the years.

“Homemade gifts are best. Which one of my children would you like?”
“My idea of housework is sweeping the room with a glance.”
“Whenever I undress in the bathroom, my shower gets turned on.”

I collect lists of interesting words, including a list of “words of the year.” Did you know that the phrase “teddy bear” was the word of the year in 1906? That the year I graduated from high school, 1976, it was “couch potato?” The year I was born, it was “Murphy’s Law.”


In case you were wondering the word of the year in 2018 was “single-use.”


Words Are Chameleons


The word “united” fascinates me. With one simple change, the term that means “to bond together” changes into a word that means the exact opposite: United becomes untied.


“Dormitory” rearranged becomes “dirty room.”


“Desperation” can be transformed into “A rope ends it.”


“Snooze alarms” in a different order equals “Alas! No more z’s.”


“The Public Art Galleries” becomes a “Large picture halls, I guess.”


When I was in Germany, a tour guide commented on “democracy.” His pronunciation was skewed, but his meaning was apropos: He called it “demo-crazy.”


A contest run by the Washington Post had authors creation new definitions on a twist of an old word: “neologism.”


  • Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn’t get it.

  • Giraffiti: Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.

  • Intaxication: Euphoria at getting a tax refund which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.

  • Blabbergasted: Stuck with a talkative bus seat neighbor.


New additions to my “cool words” list in my notebooks?


Zeitgeist. Argot. Talismanic. Quotidian.


I’ll share mine, but you’ll probably want to collect your own.


Word collecting may not be a widely acknowledged hobby, but it’s cheap, fun, and edifying. Perfect for writers.


And there’s always room for new acquisitions.


Melissa Gouty unabashedly plays with words, wallows in books, pleasures herself with writing, and lolls in language every day. Literature Lust is her love child.



Tom Hermans on Unsplash

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