Thursday, June 27, 2013

Word Count? You Must Gather Your Party Before Venturing Forth

by Allison Pang


Even despite last week's post about writing and the chaos that occurs with trying to balance writing time with kids, there are obviously times throughout the year when my creativity tends to plummet.

Oddly enough it's not always during holidays. (Which often become a greater source of time for me, simply because additional family members are around. Before you know it, I'm hiding out in a nook somewhere and blissfully undisturbed.)

So, no. I don't have a specific time of year that kills my word count.

It's game release day.

Now, I've had to temper that over the years. Time being a premium anyway, I have to pick and choose my distractions very carefully.

For example? Sim games - like Civilization? I have them, but I *rarely* play them. Apparently I really like to micro-manage my towns...but I completely lose all track of time and everything else. I simply cannot limit playing these games to 20 minutes chunks. It's always "just let me build one more city, one more granary, one more..."  I only play them when I literally have NOTHING else to do. And that almost never happens, so...

MMORPGs? I used to be more heavily involved in them. I still have my World of Warcraft account, but it's actually been close to over a year since I've loaded it up to play. At one point it was hard for me to break away from games like that - again, it's a game that never ends, so there's always that "just one more quest" mindset that can be hard to break. Once I stopped trying to keep up with some of my online friends, it became easier. I don't have time for raids, ever - but I can certainly set a timer, pop in to kill a few things and grind for ingredients, and pop back out again.

RPGs - this is my weakness, particularly if it's a game or game series I'm really fond of. (Bioware's Dragon Age or Mass Effect, for example  - though that certainly includes games like Baldur's Gate or NeverWinter Nights as well.) Last week after my surgery I gave myself a pass on writing and played Dishonored for days. (There's actually been a study done that shows that playing video games reduce pain. I'm not sure it completely reduced mine, but it was a very welcome distraction.) But the thing with RPG games is that it's not just hack and slash - it becomes a full on immersive experience, with a story arcs and subplots, npc characters who become friends, enemies, lovers, etc.

When one of these games comes out? Writing generally doesn't get done. At all.

However, rather than beat myself up over it - assuming I'm not on deadline - I will budget in a few weeks of play time to get a first run-through of one of these games. I've tried doing the "write x pages and play as a reward thing" but I've found that it's actually better for me to just go ahead and play and get it out of my system. Once I've beaten the game, I may very well go back and play it again several times - often the game outcome can change depending on how you play and what you choose to do - but the initial rush and desire is gone, so I can go back to budgeting 20 minutes here or there without that obsessive element batting at the back of my head.

The good news is that such game releases aren't nearly as frequent as I would like, so the instances where this becomes an issue are fairly few and far between. (DA 3 comes out in Fall of 2014, though - so all bets are off then.)

Otherwise, my rule of thumb is everything in moderation. No playing unless the word count is done and limit it to manageable chunks when I *do* play.

At least until the extra DLCs come out.

1 comment:

  1. You must gather your party before venturing forth <3