It was a delight to see my daughter’s pleasure at my Christmas gift to her of watercolor paints. Sara runs a busy business and says she finds joy in painting because it engages her in a way completely distinct from work.

Art engages her soul.

I find the same pleasure in practicing my violin, especially pieces by J.S. Bach. Though I’ll certainly never step onto a concert stage, I always feel a quietly thrilling connection to the great composer’s transcendent spirit.

I’m far from alone. Many writers who make their living from writing love to lose themselves in learning and practicing other arts, be it painting, music, dance, or theater.

Even superstar authors. Stephen King and his writer pals rocked charity events with their rock band The Remainders. (The name is a wink to the publishing term “remaindered book” referring to the unsold remainder of a publisher’s stock, sold at a reduced price.) Band members included Dave Barry, Amy Tan, Scott Turow, Barbara Kingsolver, Mitch Albom, Greg Iles, and honorary member Maya Angelou.

King charmingly described The Remainders’ performances as “energetic if sloppy due to their limited music skill.” They wisely augmented the group with a few pro musicians. Audiences loved them. Their gigs, infrequent but memorable, raised millions of dollars for charity.

Here’s what celebrated author Kurt Vonnegut says:

“Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.”

Lovely words, and true.

However, if you’re at work on a book, I want even more for you. I want you to sign with that agent, land that publishing deal, and have your work read and enjoyed by a wide audience. If that rewarding path is one you want to follow, I’m here to help with Right Start Mentoring and my upcoming MasterClasses.

Meanwhile, may your lovingly chosen “other” art – singing, dancing, painting, whatever it may be – always bring you joy.

Barbara Kyle