Writing is one way I have to opt out of all of that. It's relaxing, it's stimulating, and I'm not lining anyone else's pockets when I'm doing it.
I have to confess to a small level of hypocrisy here though. As well as doing it almost every minute I can outside of work, hunched over my laptop at the dining table or sitting on the sofa, I get a lot of writing done during the day, ‘on the go’. Blog entries such as this one, ideas for novels and characters, short stories, thoughts on editorial changes, etc. I type them all out on my phone into a notetaking app which synchs to an account I can access from my laptop. Copy, paste, edit, proof, publish. It's far more convenient and efficient than carrying a notebook around, writing out your thoughts and then typing them up at home.
But it's not just writing that I can do during the day. My next novel will largely take place in a national park (I think. As those who follow my FB page know, I’m torn between three outlines at the moment). And since I'm lucky enough to live in the Forest of Dean, why not use my local environment for inspiration? I've taken a several photos of likely locations in order to inform my descriptions of the landscape and flora. A few mornings ago I was up at six recording the light and ambient sounds of the early morning forest, and come the first week of September (which us when the novel takes place) I'll be recording changes in the plants and making written notes on the smells of the autumnal environment. Every bit of detail will add to the richness of the novel, and I want to capture it all in the first draft. If there's an overkill of detail I can always edit it out of the second draft.
I can do all of these things incidentally. No special trips out, no setting aside weekend mornings to make not-taking excursions into the forest. No wandering around looking for that particular tree or hollow I passed the day before. Just take a snap, film a clip, make a note of whatever my mind snags. And when I get a chance to write at home, there it all is on my laptop.
I’ve spoken to a few authors about this, and we seem to be split into two distinct camps. Those who frown upon such a piecemeal approach to writing, certain it can never produce a great work of art; and those who appreciate the ability to add to a story bit by bit, write down ideas whenever they occur, or build up a short story on the side in the small gaps of time between everything else - those whose commitments prevent them from dedicating huge three, four, five hour chunks to our craft during the day. Or, to put it another way, those who don’t have kids and those who do.
Whatever your opinion on the matter it comes down to your working style, and whether or not you’re open to writing in new ways. But I can attest to the fact that this way of writing works for me, depending upon what I’m working in. Since releasing The Complete Tor in March I have completed a collection of horror short stories (due for release this October - keep an eye out!), written four more for my next collection and made many notes on The Swarm and an untitled sci-fi, two of the novels I’ve outlined, which I referred to above.
Writing. One more thing you can do 'on the go'.