What I’m going to describe to you now is my experience and transition from your average 12 hour a day WoW player to a 12 hour a day writer, because I believe many people who are in my shoes would like to hear it.
I get a lot of emails (read as, more than one) from people who describe their backgrounds similar as mine — young guy, too addicted to video games to bother doing anything with his life, but knows (or thinks) he can do something more, particularly writing. It’s humbling knowing that the things I’ve written on my blog have made people happy or even somewhat inspired, however, this has brought me to a certain revelation: there are many people, gamers in particular, who want to be writers.
Now that’s great. The more people who write, the more chances someone out there is going to spurt out another Lord of the Rings, and god knows we need more of those. I’ve been thinking about writing all my life; for years I’ve been developing my characters and stories in my head, I’ve always practiced my writing, and the day I decided, “Hell, why don’t I just write a book?” was the day I learned the first and most important lesson you need to know: writing is hard.
But I never believed that. You can go to any blog or writer’s workshop and they’ll try to tell you that writing is hard (if they’re telling you the truth), but I couldn’t relate to these people. To me, these were all adults just trying to scare my little teenage brain. These were old ladies and old men who were probably so disconnected with what young people actually want to read about, and they’re just trying to put themselves higher on the pedestal by making their profession seem grueling and difficult. Because seriously, typing on a computer all day in your underwear seems like the best job in the world. But as soon as I began this path, I found out that everything these people were saying was absolutely correct.
Let’s start from the beginning. I had already begun to dislike WoW, but not video games in general. I was excited for SWTOR, I played LoL casually, and, to sum it up, I was your average gamer. But I got sick of doing nothing with my life and I knew I had to change, so I took out the old ideas from the catacombs of my mind, opened Word, and began to type. Now, when I was first starting, I would type a bit, and then play a PvP match, type a bit more, another PvP match, and then type again. This went on for about a week, until I eventually realized that this was getting me nowhere.
But what could I do? Quit games? Of course not. Video games had been my life and soul up until then, quitting it would probably leave me worse off than a smoker or an alcoholic going cold turkey. But I did it, because I knew that I wanted this more than any silly game could ever hold over me, and with my “all or nothing” attitude, I was never going to accomplish this goal without throwing away that big distraction. So I uninstalled all my games and said goodbye to my online friends.
And that’s not even one of the harder steps.
So about a month in, with the first few chapters of my story partially done, again I came to a realization: I’m going way too slow. You see, one of the pitfalls that many wannabe writers go through or seem to believe is that you only write when you feel inspired. And it makes sense — you don’t want to churn out bad quality garbage because you’re not feeling at your best. But the problem is, the amount of time in an overall day when you’re at that “peak” level is probably a few minutes at most, and anything more than that is just you burning off of the remnants of the wick. You can’t just rely on your inspiration high, because then you’ll never get anywhere.
So you learn to force it. You learn to write a certain amount of words per day (mine was 2,500 words) and you do it every single day. Maybe you can have a day off per week if you have a bad headache or if you’re going out, but that’s it. You have to treat this seriously. You have to treat it like you have a boss looking over your shoulder so that you’ll keep pushing and pushing until your fingers bleed at the tips. And I think, to my fellow wannabe writers, this is what stops us the most. Many of us walk into this believing that it won’t be like a job, that it won’t require much effort as it’ll flow just seamlessly from your hands, but that’s not true.
As I don’t want to make this post absurdly long, I won’t talk about every tiny psychological and literary aspects you need to learn and incorporate in your story to make it decent, so let me get to where I am now. As soon as you finish your last page and you look at your word count and the number pages, you can’t help but brim with pride. But the honest to god truth? Your book sucks. Your first draft will be a pile of garbage, and you have to realize this. You might have a good story, you probably have great chapters and great characters, but it’s dirty. It’s dirty, ugly, unshaven and smelly.
And this is a giant problem with many “indie authors” these days. People get to the end and then think, “Oh my god, this is amazing, I’m going to send it out to publishers right now .” A few months later they’ll probably get a rejection later and then they refuse to believe that their masterpiece could ever be rejected, and that the publisher was probably an idiot. So what do they do? Instead of trying to fix the problems of their book, they go and self-publish it, because it’s so damn easy. I’ve probably bought a dozen or so indie self-published books for my Kindle, and every single one was littered with common mistakes — repeated words/phrases, wrong punctuation/grammar, and just clunky sentences. The mistakes are so common that you can do nothing more but let out a giant sigh.
Which is to say – you can never stop making your book better. If you don’t have at least three drafts, then you didn’t try hard enough. You aren’t perfect; even professionals need editors. I know what it’s like to end that book. I know what it’s like to finally type that last sentence and want to wrap it up in a manuscript and send it out right away, because it feels just as good as getting achievement points in a video game.
But you can’t do it. Not yet. Don’t embarrass yourself with an unbaked turkey — dress it, stuff it and bake it up. Of course, this isn’t to say all indie authors go through that thought process, there are many good ones out there, but I wouldn’t be surprised if most do.
So yeah. To all you people out there, gamers in particular, the biggest question you have to ask yourself is this: are you willing to give up everything for what you love? Are you willing to uninstall your games, stop seeing the sunlight, put the television on mute, and just write? Because these are the lengths you have to take.
Do it knowing that you’re actually doing something with your life. Do it to know that you’re going to be proud of it after countless nights working in solitude, and do it knowing that when you show it to your friends, family, publisher, and fans, they’re going to want it and accept you for your talent and hardwork. Do it because an expansion set won’t make your chapters irrelevant, a level-raise won’t make your character development weak, and a weak-spined gaming company won’t make your golden sentences common. Do it because it will last forever. Write it, edit it, make it happen — do it for yourself, so that you can die knowing you weren’t just another person in the world. You were another person who made others happy with what you did.
And gaming can be beneficial for you. Gaming teaches you that by doing the same task over and over and over and over again, you’ll eventually get gold. You can spend hours farming mobs, unlocking useless boxes, and collecting pointless trash, but eventually, no matter what, you’re going to succeed. That after a certain point, you’re going to break the surface and have that title above your name. And what’s that title?
“Average Gamer, the Best-Selling Author”. It beats Dragonslayer any day, if you ask me.