What kind of esoteric hobby should my character have?
October 7, 2016 10:52 AM   Subscribe

I'm writing a short story and I'm looking for a detailed, intense hobby my Type A/introverted character can engage in. Something like building ships in a bottle or detailed miniatures but less obvious. Any ideas?
posted by heavenknows to Writing & Language (44 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Writing/drawing on grains of rice
Repairing antique radios
posted by quiet coyote at 10:57 AM on October 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

bead weaving
posted by INFJ at 10:58 AM on October 7, 2016

Making stained glass
posted by jenny76 at 11:02 AM on October 7, 2016

Ham radio
posted by Rad_Boy at 11:09 AM on October 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

Making handmade bathymetric models.
posted by sanka at 11:10 AM on October 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

Lego models
Knitting or crochet
posted by MsMolly at 11:11 AM on October 7, 2016

Violin maker
Cedar strip canoe builder
Amateur astronomy (some of these people stay up all night carefully sketching globular clusters or the bands on Jupiter)
Model railroad enthusiast
You're that guy who makes those tiny burritos for his hamster and films it as if he's dinning at a tiny Mexican restaurant.
posted by bondcliff at 11:15 AM on October 7, 2016 [3 favorites]

Fantasy sports, particularly the daily fantasy ones (e.g., Fanduel). People get really involved in the minutiae and finding that one undervalued person.
posted by Etrigan at 11:15 AM on October 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

Uncommon photography styles such as pinhole or tintype.
posted by Green With You at 11:16 AM on October 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

scherenschnitte (intricate paper cutting)
posted by belladonna at 11:17 AM on October 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

Growing bonsai plants.
posted by seasparrow at 11:18 AM on October 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

Are they in a city or in a rural environment? Do they stay in a lot or do they like the outdoors?
posted by I-baLL at 11:18 AM on October 7, 2016

Armor making, where you take little metal discs and stitch them overlapping together ...
posted by tilde at 11:19 AM on October 7, 2016

Sashiko embroidery
posted by vunder at 11:25 AM on October 7, 2016

Day trading/investing?
Hacking (code)?
Pornography collection (obsessive categorization)?
Miniature origami?
Nootropic self-experimentation (and obsessive measurements of bodily function)?
posted by porpoise at 11:33 AM on October 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

Training fish to do tricks using operant conditioning.
posted by Redstart at 11:43 AM on October 7, 2016 [3 favorites]

Making miniature dioramas. You can pick some thematically significant ideas. Anything from fantasy & scifi to war to recreating tiny historical scenes or buildings. It is basically miniatures painting on steroids as they make all the scenery & basing too.
posted by wwax at 11:55 AM on October 7, 2016 [3 favorites]

Enameling - various types - plique a jour, basse taille, cloisonné etc
posted by TrinsicWS at 11:56 AM on October 7, 2016

seconding scrimshaw. it's so deliciously esoteric and absorbing
posted by chasles at 11:57 AM on October 7, 2016

I like the idea of carving grains of rice. It's meticulous, but I like to imagine someone who understands the futility of it, and tends to eat all the results (successes and failures).

Also, carving egg shells. It's beautiful, fragile, and fairly compact.
posted by aimedwander at 12:06 PM on October 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

Are they a wordy person? If so diagramless crosswords might fit, where you have to figure out the grid before you can answer and fit the clues.
posted by goo at 12:37 PM on October 7, 2016

tatting lace

mosaic (imagine trawling thrift stores for chipped colorful plates, making frames, etc.)

assembling electronics kits

clicker training cats

perfecting a vegan recipe for various baked goods using vegetables from the squash family (pumpkins, zucchini) as a binder instead of eggs

making Arts and Crafts oaken frames

making Arts and Crafts tiles and framing them

Making shadow boxes

making vintage-look divided boxes (like typesetters' boxes) and using them to store/frame natural history specimens

Collecting and displaying vintage cabinet hardware

cataloguing lichen on local walking trails (or traveling to wilderness trails and identifying/cataloguing lichen there)

felting animals or decorative / floral elements

collecting thimbles

building shelving and cabinets for hoarders

managing a personal weather monitoring station

producing a local radio program (could be interviews, music, events announcements, workout programming, health/events/business news, radio book club, story time for kids)

putting together a podcast for a niche musical interest like French New Wave or gamelan music

restoring vintage shoes

metal casting

metal machine shop work (milling things like cool pens or spinning tops)

jewelry making - wire bending, semiprecious stones

wildlife rehabilitation - bottle feeding squirrels, etc.

whatever they're doing at TinyKittens.com

livestreaming conflicts among backyard wildlife

creating a conlang (constructed language)

ham radio

ham radio with the Esperanto crowd


creating jigsaw puzzles that are actually word puzzles
posted by amtho at 12:54 PM on October 7, 2016

posted by stellaluna at 12:57 PM on October 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

posted by exceptinsects at 1:01 PM on October 7, 2016

Cryptic crosswords
time lapse photography
doll house furniture
posted by sparklemotion at 1:16 PM on October 7, 2016

Egg blowing and decorating.
posted by blurker at 1:21 PM on October 7, 2016

Stop-motion animation.
posted by praemunire at 1:31 PM on October 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

netsuke carving
posted by scruss at 2:03 PM on October 7, 2016

Designs fonts.
posted by zadcat at 2:39 PM on October 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

Fly tying.
posted by notyou at 3:09 PM on October 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

Persnickety Wikipedia Editor
posted by Zephyrial at 4:06 PM on October 7, 2016

playing Dwarf Fortress.

(also, thanks for the fun list of things to explore, MeFis!)
posted by sazerac at 5:08 PM on October 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

Hand-carving wooden spoons.
posted by vunder at 5:19 PM on October 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

Fruit pit carving. (Notable olive pit example from 1700s.)
posted by Iris Gambol at 6:14 PM on October 7, 2016

Chain maille making
Carving crayons
posted by wwartorff at 8:56 PM on October 7, 2016

Wood carving/sculpting
Clothing design
Building model cars
posted by SisterHavana at 10:43 PM on October 7, 2016

Researching and documenting historical misinformation campaigns. For example, did you know that the concept of the Type A personality was probably constructed on behalf of the tobacco industry to hide the link between smoking and heart disease and cancer?
posted by heatherlogan at 12:16 AM on October 8, 2016

Collecting beetles
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 12:26 AM on October 8, 2016

If the character is nerdy, speedrunning games involves hours and hours of perfecting sequences of actions. You can look up a game name and speed run on YouTube to get an idea. Tool assisted speed running is even deeper down the rabbit hole. It's basically mathematically solving a game using coding, strategy, and math. Both hobbies also have deep communities of like-minded nerds associated with them.
posted by codacorolla at 4:09 AM on October 8, 2016

I've got no ideas that haven't been already mentioned, but I'm chiming in to say that the suggestions are pretty amazing and I'm thrilled to be a MeFite!
posted by drinkmaildave at 6:21 PM on October 8, 2016

Wait, you guys are amazing! Too many to choose from! I think I'll have to take up some of these myself.
posted by heavenknows at 8:38 PM on October 8, 2016

posted by schrodycat at 3:45 PM on October 9, 2016

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