What? No, no, don’t mind my errant rambling. I’m sure it’s nothing. Let’s just get onto the part where I tell you things about blogging shall we?
Yes, come down further, away from that little bit. No one wants to see that anyway.
Yes, down here.
Ok. Blogging. You’re thinking about it. But why the hell would you want to do this? I’m giving up precious free time right now that could be much better spent playing the games that I write about. Honestly, just because you’re a gamer doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll have an inclination to write about it. Do you already write things? Are you a long-winded commenter? Do you frequent forums and twitter and other methods of socially stalking developers and other like-minded players? These are good signs that you’ve got a knack for writing spunk loads of content. The rest of you, well…
It’s not much of the inspirational “Go get ’em tiger!” introductions to blogging that you might be seeing around the internets, but I think it’s a much better tempered one. Not everyone can handle it, and I’ve seen quite a few fizzle over time. It’s one thing to feel pressured to ignite that natural talent latent inside of you for the good of all mankind, but it’s quite another if you intend to throw some shit against the wall because someone told you it might be fun for a while. Lets cut the crap, you didn’t come here to get slapped around and discouraged, obviously you’re a reader and you think you might have something as a writer. Lemme just expose myself a little bit.
I started writing a journal as part of a summer assignment as a kid, my parents pushed it on me and I pretty much hated every minute of it. My life as a poor kid was boring as fuck. They noticed that my entries were really short and literal about things that I did during the day, which wasn’t much. After a couple weeks of that, they told me to make up stories about what I wanted to do. There was a surge of creativity that flowed from my clenched fist like waterfalls of lead on that lined paper. I did in all reality spend a fair amount of time outside playing in the dirt, pretending I was a giant and crushing ants, or running around in the woods acting like I was a tiger a la Hobbes, much to the dismay of my little brother. They gave me license to take that childish freedom of imagination and run wild with it, as long as I wrote something.
That was 5th grade or so and I haven’t stopped since. Through middle school my journaling tapered off because I discovered DnD. This was a whole new outlet for creative writing. I took it upon myself to create entire fictional worlds filled with adventure, and eventually with a group of friends we began to play in them. Writing took a turn to storytelling and world building, but it didn’t change the talent. During high school I was allowed to take two years of creative writing classes during which I wrote a 600-odd page book on the school computers, it was rough and unfinished, but it got me all the English credits that I needed. Also, as a point to brag, I was the only kid in my school to pass the creative writing portion of the standard state testing scholarships. Won 2500$ in grant money toward any college in Michigan.
After high school I spent a handful of years travelling the state, living on couches, generally enjoying life and pulling in experiences. I didn’t actually settle down and start gaming until I got a real job and became involved in a couple browser games. One of which had a creative writing contest, so naturally I entered it. It was supposed to be three entries of 1000 characters each, micro-stories. I read that as 1000 words each and wrote a short story in their world setting instead. The site owner wrote me a personal email telling me that he couldn’t accept the entry unless I could somehow shorten it, which I did, and won anyway. I got set up with lifetime access to the game and any of the betas they ran. Kinda cool, but it was just a little webgame and they went out with a whimper a couple years later.
2008 rolled along. Warhammer Online fired up.In many ways, WAR did manage to free the community to talk about so much more. I’ve heard it referred to as a turning point for gaming blogs, at least the ones in the circles that I follow. For all the blogs that were involved with it in the beginning, for all the ones that took part in the Warhammer Community Promotion Initiative, dozens of us have grown up into better things. My time blogging for WAR brought out some of the best stuff that I’ve done, it opened up a new aspect of writing that I hadn’t had much experience with. A community of writers, supportive, helpful, critical. Overflowing with shared knowledge, different views on the same experiences. It’s a zen type of feeling, where everything flows well. You have a place in the world. I think with blogging, and this community in particular, when you write for yourself and you pay just as much attention to those around you, it’s easy to fit in.
It’s worth it you know. People are innately creative, in their own ways. I believe that. For some of us it’s stripped away at too early an age, but chances are if you’re still playing games there’s something left over. Don’t take me the wrong way, I have a history of writing stretching back as far as it possibly can. That doesn’t mean it’s required to stand up a blog. Any time you get started, make it real. Write what you want, how you want. Write about things that you feel like you could talk about for hours. Ramble! I do some basic spelling and grammar checks and generally re-read my work before it gets posted, but it doesn’t always make sense. Sometimes that’s the beauty of it.
Maybe you’re more structured in your life and creating lists of things to do and check off comes easy for you. That’s great! That might be a cool concept for a blog, checklists of things to do. Creativity comes in many different forms. If yours naturally comes out looking like something formal, don’t let anyone try to tell you that it’s not how things are done. Hell, we have one great blogger in our midst that does everything using bullet points, and I think that’s pretty cool. There’s bloggers that seem to get out barely a dozen sentences before they wrap up a post, and it’s totally legit. Not everyone needs to have huge walls of text, maybe you don’t either. Try a bunch of different styles on your own and see what fits you best.
Want a place to practice? Try 750words.com I used to journal there back when I was getting started with a blog. I needed somewhere anonymous to deal with some unpleasant things in my life and it was a great reminder to let things out. Stress relieving at times depending on what you’re using it for. The theory is that good writers can write something every day, at least 750 words. That should sum up most of the waking moments of your life while your brain is kicking on and can occasionally be pretty revealing when you really let your subconscious out to play.
Today most of my writing is done on Evernote.com. it’s online so I can access it anywhere with a pretty minimal login. It saves constantly for those derpy times when I manage to close the window mid-post or hit the wrong key combination somehow. For the most part it even formats properly when I want to turn something into a blog post, which is a huge bonus. Nothing was worse than getting deep int
o a post for the formatting to go sideways from a copy paste. Also, I don’t feel as guilty leaving half finished rants, for some reason. But that’s a personal thing.
There’s my insightful post on getting a blog. You might not be cut out for it. Some people are creative in other ways. If you find yourself naturally engaged in topics however, I’d guess a little bit of practice in writing will get you moving in the right direction. It seems counter-intuitive to waste a bunch of writing on journaling when you’re interested in publishing a blog. Sometimes that’s just what it takes to get the juices flowing. Not to mention the practice, if you can’t go back and read your stuff out loud, it’s probably not quite time to start hitting that publish button. There’s very few professional bloggers in this group, and you can pick out the more e-famous ones pretty easily. That’s no excuse to write up a sloppy mess. Have pride in your posts, treat them well, and make it something that you love. Writing is for yourself first and foremost, but you never know when someone will make you an offer that might have otherwise passed you by.