Writing for PetaPixel! Good Hobbies vs. Great Hobbies

March 1, 2023 - By

In 2015 my wife pointed out that I am “a fun guy, who doesn’t know what fun is”. It’s a long story how we arrived there, but the point is that I really had no hobby. Years of experimenting helped me form some guidelines to help myself discover a hobby worth spending time on. When I began writing this idea down for a friend, I realized I wanted to share this idea with a greater audience.

The popular photography magazine PetaPixel published my article here. TLDR: I think a hobby should give you unlimited room for growth both technically and creatively.

Other examples

In the post I elaborate why photography is such a great hobby – which is somewhat catering to the audience. I do have other examples though! We live in a day with so many options readily available to us, that we simply can’t do them all to any degree of proficiency. My aim is to show my framework in action, how I have been able to spend less time on good hobbies to make room for great ones.


I can see how this would, and should be a worthy hobby. It indeed fosters limitless creative expression, limitless technical skills, there are many great and interesting tools, and many practical ways to cook with or for someone… I just don’t really enjoy doing it, and I’m not fussy about its fruits (I truly could eat the same meals every day). I’ll keep trying, but for now it’s not actually enjoyable to me.

Video Games

For me, video games will always be more about ‘consuming’ and entertainment than of ‘creativity’. There are exceptions to every rule, and examples do come to mind of games that can be technical, creative, and enjoyed socially; however I will categorize this as a lesser expression of these qualities compared to other hobbies. There’s a time and place for this kind and level of hobby, but for me it will always be limited, my highest levels of satisfaction tend to be apart from screens. I do romanticize the idea of playing a game deeply every January, but don’t always make the time for it.


The yo-yo is also not a great hobby for me: maybe Gentry Stein can be expressive in this medium, but I wasn’t able to be especially creative nor technical (though I did gain some improvements to hand-eye coordination). At best I consider this a micro-hobby to be enjoyed for minutes per week. I still have some “throws”, and can enjoy this at a shallow level; in fact I’ll always appreciate its low-cost (financially and in time), and never being tempted to make it an “identity thing”. But using the above framework I know that if I have a couple hours of down time I will be better off spending it another way, with one of the following two examples.


Gosh I wish I enjoyed doing some athletic physical activity. Naw.

Playing Music

Playing Bass guitar is a perfect example of a great hobby. The more I learn about music theory (the technical mathematical side of music) the more I know that I don’t know–and I love that. Learning the technical and creative side of playing an instrument has given me a vastly deeper appreciation of recorded music. I love to play alone, with others, performing at church, and recording for friends. There is a high up-front dollar-cost, and ongoing time-cost, but there’s something so uniquely satisfying about learning something by ear, or mastering the muscle memory of a Vulfpeck bass line!

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This post was written by Arley