Really– I have. I had to. This is getting out of hand.
One of the most dreadful aspects of my process as a writer, historically, has been how easily distracted I am. And in my particular case, one class of distraction stands out as the evil nemesis of my writing.
I am, of course, referring to PC games.
First it was Aces of the Pacific. Then it was Privateer. Then came Doom, from which I almost didn’t escape (and they’re coming out with a new version…). After that, Everquest. Then Halo (actually, that should be HALO, in flaming letters five feet high). Then World of Warcraft.
And finally, World of Tanks.
All of these games, along with others, have taken man-years away from my writing, but some reason the last five months have been a special horror-show because of World of Tanks. I mean, this is silly– grown men (doubtless along with many kids and some women) sitting at their computers, driving these virtual tanks around a virtual landscape, blowing each other up (virtually) and getting overbearing when they win and pissy when they lose (the in-game chat is all-too-often appallingly juvenile). Entire YouTube channels are devoted to replaying battles. The standard account is free, but the makers of the game are apparently having no trouble selling millions of fans premium accounts, because, according to reports, they are raking in some serious real-world money.
And, I admit, this is doubly-silly in a man my age who worked on the real thing in his youth. I mean, it’s embarrassing. Particularly as I am not really very good at the game.
Nevertheless, most evenings at some point you will find squinting at my computer screen, wondering where that M-5 Stuart went, and worrying about whether I’ve angled my armor properly to bounce a shot from that T-34. Usually right before the T-34 disassembles me with a single shot.
Distractions, in general, are the bane of a writer. Sometimes it is just easier to start puttering away at something else– cooking, gardening, surfing the web– than it is to force yourself to buckle down and face that blank sheet of paper or the empty document page. Writing requires daily discipline, which is one of the hardest habits to develop, and one which can be easily damaged by the distractions thronging around most of us.
Of course, the reason we let ourselves be distracted in the first place is often unrelated to how much fun or immediately important the particular distraction may be– we’re tired, or we’re discouraged, or things are just to damned chaotic in your personal space to focus on the writing. This may be, in fact, a species of writer’s block. In my case, I think it was the fact that for a long while now I have not really been loving what I have been putting down for Princess of Fire. The state of my self-publishing effort was also a source of discouragement (about which I have already blogged). So it’s been easier, on too many nights, just to log into WoT and dodge shells in Kharkov or the Northern Desert for an hour or so before bedtime, and not deal with the hard business of straightening out PoF.
Therefore, I have made a deal with myself. In exchange for 500 words on Princess of Fire each day, I get to play World of Tanks. I have to complete the 500 words before I log in to WoT. Period. No 500 words, no armored combat. So far, I have often exceeded that minimum, so I am rather pleased with the bargain. Further progress reports to follow.
Of course, eventually I expect the novelty of World of Tanks will wear off, just as it did for Privateer and World of Warcraft. I will once more find some balance and be able keep my priorities straight.
At least until Star Citizen comes out.
Pray for me….