Most people, from the outside, think it’s the best job in the world. You can pad downstairs in your PJ’s, curl up with a nice cup of tea, and enter a world of your own making. Or use all those English lessons that you daydreamed through to make a good living.
It gets a bit vague after that – most people seem to focus on the bliss of working from home than the actual work of writing though, and don’t realise that doing it day in, day out kind of takes the shine off it.
While writing is a dream gig, it’s also one of the hardest things you’ll ever do, not because it’s technically difficult (it is, but so are other jobs); not because it’s hard to motivate yourself (it is, but if you’re self-employed, that can be true anyway); and certainly not because people ‘don’t get’ writers (most don’t, but I can’t get my head around regular jobs either). It’s because being ‘always on’ is harder than any other career.
For a start, writing isn’t just a job. It’s not just a vocation. It’s a calling. And I don’t mean that in the poseur way – I mean quite literally, once you begin writing, it’s something you’ll often never stop. Not for long anyway.
It changes your perspective of the world. It’s not all dramatic and angst ridden though – writing is fulfilling, rewarding and to be honest, I kind of get a thrill knowing that I’ve got as much power in the world I’m writing in, as worlds I game in. And honestly, where else can you plan setting fire to a merry-go-round full of bodies without getting arrested?
Megalomania and serial killer tendencies aside, it’s difficult to keep things entirely fresh and separate sometimes – I write horror and sci fi, so playing in grim-dark-sci-fi sometimes feels like I’m back in the world I was writing – it was worse for us when I was playing a Mage in World of Darkness.
The always on thing comes back to bite me lots of the time – and unlike a regular gaming schedule, I can’t predict when my muse is going to hop up and down and sucker punch me with the new ‘thing’ I need to be writing – in fact, she normally gets me either in game, or just before it. And I’ve yet to find a stat line that gives me the opportunity to play a slightly scatter-brained, distracted type in game with any regularity.
What I have found though, is the more I role-play, the more I like designing games - I can see where games work, and where they don’t – and I really quite enjoy designing something that might work better. Keeping it fresh and interesting might be hard, but you know what, I’d never change my job for the rest of the world, and I still love exploring other worlds, whether it’s of my making – or that of someone else’s.
If you have any requests regarding gaming and writing, D Kai Wilson-Viola would love to hear them.