Writing, Paralyzing Stress, and Video Games - Travis Senzaki

On Paralyzing Stress and Video Games

I’ve been gone for a while. Again. I don’t know if I’m back yet, but I have added weekly blogging to my HabitRPG list of tasks, so hopefully, that will motivate me to keep going.

I’m a sucker for video games, especially JRPGs. Since about the time of my last post, I’ve been playing DragonQuest Monsters 2 on the DS in Japanese. I ended up putting about 100 hours into the game before beating everything worth my time to beat earlier this week. I was still writing- in fact, I’ve just passed 750 days of writing in a row on the Magic Spreadsheet!- but that was about all I was doing besides the game. It was a lot of fun, and perfectly designed to appeal to an easily addictable person, like me. Since the game revolves around recruiting and breeding monsters to get stronger fighters, it isn’t only progress in the game that gives you that rush of accomplishment, each monster you breed on the path towards the monster that you want is a microaccomplishment and suckers you in for more.

I highly recommend the game for people who don’t ever want to get anything done again.

I think one of the reasons I got so into it was because it gave me a break from all the other stress in my life- mostly work. Since I changed jobs last May, I’ve been in a position with a lot more responsibility and pressure but a complete absence of organizational leadership, as I would define it, and no clear expectations or feedback from my superiors. As a result, much of my work feels like I’m screaming into the void all alone and getting nowhere. On top of that, writing felt the same way. Well, editing, anyway.

In my first draft of Banner of the King, I had 90,000 plus words before I reached my inciting incident. That’s a whole novel, in most genres, and way too long for the current market. The Lord of the Rings actually had about the same amount of introduction before Frodo left the Shire, but I guarantee you that my story wasn’t nearly as interesting. So I started tryingg to cut that back, eliminate scenes, and rewrite chapters to account for them being in the same order. As I was doing that, I realized that many of my characters, including Poing of View characters had no real independent characters or arcs. They served my overall story direction, but they weren’t really characters on their own. I started trying to fix that and got frustrated, because there was just so much to do.

This is probably why it’s a bad idea to attempt a first novel that has four completely separate Point of View characters and plot lines without having ever written a piece with a single, main character.

I took a break from Banner for a little while to get some perspective and to work on a simpler tale. To some extent, I wanted to go back and hit the worldbuilding and story generation phase again, since I find that to be the most fun. But I’m also focusing on getting a story with a single POV character, so I can really work on his development and story. If I can get that to work at least decently well, then I’ll go back to Banner.

So, that’s where I’m at now. I’m having a lot of fun again with the world-building (although I know that’s a trap), I’m trying to worry less at work, and I’ve given up DS RPGs in favor of HabitRPG, at least for now. The goal is to be a working writer. Every day at the day job reinforces that. So, consistency.

Back to writing!

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