Top 8 Programmer Hobbies

Check out the top 8 programmer hobbies according to a recent survey, along with some great resources on how to get started with each hobby yourself! By Felipe Laso-Marsetti.

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If you read, it’s quite likely that you enjoy programming. You probably have a job as a developer, or enjoy coding in your spare time in the evenings or weekends.

Although programming is a noble calling, having some hobbies outside programming can bring significant benefits to your personal and professional life.

I recently surveyed fellow readers and asked them what their favorite hobbies were other than programming. In this article, I’ll share the results with you!

For each of the top 8 programming hobbies, I’ll explain why you should do it and share some handy resources and tips to get started.

Who knows – maybe I’ll tempt you to start a new hobby by the end of this article! :]

8) Writing

17.5% of survey respondents had this as a hobby. Writing can be a great hobby for programmers, as often you can combine your passion with programming with your passion for writing. For example, every article on this site was written by a developer!

Why Do it?

“Writing, because the nature of writing has helped me document better code and understand the creative process in writing code.” – Joseph Mennemeier

Have you thought about the fact that you write every day? Emails, messages, source code and Facebook posts fly from your fingers on to the screen every single day. Whether you’re composing 140 characters or 140 pages, you’re writing all the time!

So why not do it for fun too? For example, keeping a journal or writing a novel can be a cathartic experience. It’s also a great way to preserve extended memories in ways that photos or video can’t. You can’t capture what you were thinking or feeling at a specific moment in a photo.

Chris Wagner doing some good ol’ writing

Chris Wagner doing some good ol' writing

Another idea is to start blogging on something that interest you, such as programming or technology. You can use sites like Medium if you don’t want to go through the hassle of starting your own blog.

Last but not least, you could write short stories or novels, perhaps even take part in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), where you attempt to compose a 50,000-word novel in thirty days!

Writing is not for everyone, but it’s a rewarding pursuit and another great tool to have in your arsenal.

How to Get Started

Here are some resources that might give you a bit of writing motivation:

  • Day One App: A simple, elegant journaling app
  • Medium: A site you can blog on without starting your own blog
  • Nanowrimo: Join a commmunity of people around the world and write your first novel — or your tenth
  • Scrivener: A great writing tool to keep you organized and producting
  • 15 Apps for Writers: Every writer can use a little writing help

Practical First Steps

Start by keeping a personal journal. This isn’t a huge commitment like a book or a blog, but it helps you stay on track with your writing and takes only a few minutes a day.

7) Board Games

24.6% of survey respondents enjoy playing board games. And I’m not talking about Candyland – I’m talking about “serious board games” like Settlers of Catan, Bohnanza, Small World, and more.

Why Do it?

Board games are one of the best ways to connect with other people. While it’s easy to curl up with a controller for your video game console at the end of the day and play with friends or strangers across the globe, it doesn’t have that personal feeling of being near others, joking or grabbing a meal afterwards.

Board games at RWDevCon.

Board games at RWDevCon.

This isn’t to say you can’t play board games online. There are fantastic alternatives on consoles, PC, and mobile devices, such as this excellent port of Small World to the iPad:


When I lived in Miami as a teen, I loved going to my local Wizards of the Coast store and painting Warhammer 40K figurines while watching, in amusement, as others played and showed off their collection. I would also take my Game Boy Advance and Pokémon cards to take part in local Pokémon leagues or just enjoy some multiplayer gaming.

Asking for help, making friends in your town and getting out of the house are all things that board games can provide while having a blast playing games about characters you love.

How to Get Started

Want to start your very own board game night? Here’s a few resources to get started:

Practical First Steps

Go down to your local hobby store and see if they offer any board game groups you can join. If not, get a group of friends together and play something as simple as chess, or as robust as Dungeons & Dragons.

The Ray Wenderlich board game collection

The Ray Wenderlich board game collection

6) Art and Illustration

24.6% of survey respondents had this as a hobby. Get your charcoal and sketch pad ready!

Why Do It?

Tammy Coron put it best:

“As a developer, I often find myself buried under hundreds, sometimes thousands of lines of code. Solving problems and working out design patterns can take a lot out of you. At some point, you need to unwind.

For me, it’s through my art — whether it’s illustration or storytelling, the result is always the same: I’m creating something, from nothing. Having the ability to create is such a rewarding experience.

For the record, you don’t have to be a professional artist or writer to create. Just sit back and enjoy the process — you might even surprise yourself. =]” —Tammy Coron

Tammy illustrating on her Cintiq

Tammy illustrating on her Cintiq

Tammy touches on a fantastic point which is creating! You don’t have to get fancy or know how to draw realistic human figures or portraits. A simple coloring book you do on your spare time, simple smiley faces, drawing cartoons, they are all art.

Deep down we are all artistic and creative somehow. Find what you like drawing and creating, and enjoy!