The pandemic was certainly devastating and no doubt changed everyone and everything. Nothing will ever be quite the same.
As Dickens would say, it was the best of times and it was the worst of times. There are no hidden positives in a pandemic but if anything, this past year has given many of us the gift of reflection. It has also given us a chance to slow down and appreciate what is important in life. Part of that slowing down process has allowed us to pursue interests and hobbies that we not have otherwise had time for. Fortunately, my hobby was long established before the pandemic and it helped me get though some tough days.
Once the pandemic is over, what happens to that newfound hobby? Hmm!
Let’s say your new hobby is clock collecting and repair old clocks but i could be just about anything. How do you maintain your new hobby beyond the pandemic.
Everybody loves lists so here we go!
Connect with like-minded people: In this age of social media, it is easier now than ever before. There are newsgroups, forums, and discussion groups for just about anything. I spend time on the NAWCC.org newsgroup where I find solutions to the challenges of clock repair. Input any hobby and you will find discussion groups aplenty and who knows, future friends. I connect with like-minded folks on Facebook.
YouTube is your friend: There are literally millions of videos and if you select the right terms you can find information that might offer solutions to your hobby problem. There is a lot of good advice but not everyone is an expert. I subscribe to several reputable YouTube channels in clock repair and I find their advice helpful. But it is a truly a jungle out there.
Research your hobby: Your local library is an excellent resource. The staff will help you narrow your search for information. For those staying at home, there are some very good websites that are run by well-respected professionals in their field. Blogs and Youtube are other good sources for information. The NAWCC has a subscription-based online research site that I find excellent.
Start simple and progress slowly: if you have tackled something more that you are capable of in the beginning you will become easily discouraged. When I was starting out in clock repair I began disassembling and servicing time-only and 30-hour movements before progressing to more complicated clocks. Start simple, gain confidence, hone your skillset and work up to more difficult challenges.
Combine your hobby with other interests: My wife and I love to travel. Admittedly it has been difficult in the past year but small staycations have sustained us. We buy clocks online and travel to different parts of the province to pick them up.
My other interest is photography. Repairing clocks and photography go hand in hand. I take pictures at every step of the way when servicing my clocks.
Invest in the right tools at the right time: Invest in the right tools at each stage of your hobby; start with the most basic tools that you can find at a hardware or craft store. Spread your costs over time buying things as you need them.
Strategic purchasing means buying that expensive tool when you are absolutely sure you need it and have made a strong commitment to your hobby. For example, in clock repair, there are three essential tools that can be rather pricey. Over the course of four years, I bought a mainspring winder ($450), a bushing machine ($1550), and a mini lathe ($800). You can live without any of these tools and I know many clock repairers who manipulate mainsprings without a spring winder, who bush by hand, and who use a portable drill or drill press for clock repair. Buying used is an option but whatever the case, buy according to your means.
Don’t be discouraged if things don’t go exactly as planned; A lot of us have high expectations when starting anything new. We have to realize that in any hobby there are hills and valleys, times when things are going well, and times when there are obstacles that seem impossible to overcome. For some hobbies, there is a steep learning curve.
Stick with it, Perseverance is the key. In time mountains become molehills.
Move out of your comfort zone; I work on many simpler one and two train clock movements but seldom work on 3 train movements which are much more complicated. However, I will buy the odd one to help me build confidence and broaden my skillset.
Keep records: Records can be in most any form from handwritten notes to photographs, to an Excel spreadsheet (see below) or a written account of your successes and experiences such as a blog or website.
Keeping records reminds you of your successes when you are at a low point in your hobby and provides motivation to tackle new challenges.
Well, I hope that provides some ideas for maintaining your new hobby. A hobby can be a transitory thing or life-long pursuit but in tough times it is the one thing that sustains many of us.