The Essential Work-Hobby Balance

If reading is the nation’s top hobby, what do proofreaders and copy-editors do for fun?

We find out from SfEP Professional Member Anne Halliday how to achieve an essential break from work.

Hobbies are an important part of my life. They make me a complete person, keep me sane, and allow an outlet for widening my horizons. The life of a copy-editor and proofreader can be a solitary one, so my hobbies are moments in my week to interact with others; except for running, that’s my thinking time.

The website lists reading as the most popular hobby, above watching TV, with ‘Family Time’ third on the list.

I don’t really consider the latter a hobby, but I suppose it does fall within the online Oxford Dictionary’s definition of something that is ‘done regularly in one’s leisure time’.

I would say that reading has to be top of my list too, even though it’s part of my job. Reading ‘for fun’ is certainly different from reading for proofreading, although sometimes it takes my mind a page or so to switch off from checking for correct positioning of quotation marks and whether North American or British spellings have been used.

Hobbies can be good for your health, and I don’t just mean exercising.

The mind enjoys different types of activities. It can be beneficial to remove yourself from your working environment and ‘exercise’ your mind.

In the editing world, and no doubt also in other fields, your hobbies can lead to employment. Although I have a law degree, I now proofread and copy-edit more history and literature books than law. Reading history was previously ‘just’ a hobby but is now both a hobby and part of my job. A couple of years ago I started participating in MOOCs (‘Massive Open Online Course’) for ‘fun’, but as I mainly take part in courses on history and literature they are practically CPD.

So between long periods of sitting at my desk examining documents with my editing tools at the ready, you will also see me: running (to clear my head); drawing (to be creative); leading a Girls’ Brigade company (this covers just about anything, but in particular allows me to keep in touch with young people, use my organisational skills, run about playing ‘tig’, and have fun with craft); and playing social golf (with the emphasis on the social).

As Anaïs Nin said, ‘I can elect something I love and absorb myself in it’.

You may think you don’t have many hobbies but, if you examine what you do in a week, I am certain that you will find that you have more hobbies than you thought. They are things that enrich your life.

Anne is a proofreader and copy-editor who works on books on law, history, literature, religion and social science. Anne is a member of the Glasgow SfEP group who meet regularly to discuss editing-related topics and eat cake – is eating cake a hobby?

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