Shop Talk: On Setting Goals

Getting to paid to write about video games is a damn fine thing to strive for. A lot of writers looking to break into game journalism hope to find a way to make a decent living slapping words together about their favorite hobby. It’s a reasonable goal — one that’s achievable with hard work and patience, but the adventure itself is often a long one fraught with pitfalls and perils. The key to weathering the stormy moments is to string together many small victories over time until you’ve got a sturdy enough raft to keep your freelance business sailing smoothly.

There’s nothing wrong with aiming high. Everyone starts out with some grand objective they strive to reach some day. It sparkles and shimmers on the horizon, keeping you pushing onwards. You might want to earn enough money to quit your day job and write about games full-time, or perhaps you’re dying to write for a big outlet some day. These goals are attainable no matter how lofty they may initially seem. They can also change as you go and be replaced by a new object of your affection. But regardless of what your Holy Grail of freelance game journalism might be, it’s important to have something epic to quest for over the long haul. Pushing ever forward helps keep you from sinking into ruts.

Meanwhile, you need to set short-term objectives that are more readily attainable. For the budding freelancer, this could be as simple as getting your first paying gig or breaking into a specific outlet. Think of them as side-quests that yield sweet loot to boost your writing power gradually over time while you’re en route to vanquishing the mighty evil of the realm. Yes, I’ve been playing WAY too much Skyrim lately. You don’t want to taste my voice. It is indeed potent. Like the singer from Cradle of Filth. Gnarly stuff. Google it.

Do or Do Not: There Is No Try

Yoda is a wise little dude with some good food for thought (see what I did there fellow Star Wars nerds?). Don’t just pack it in like a whiny farm boy with a lightsaber when the going gets tough. Keep at it with your goddamn force until you accomplish what you set out to do. One minute you’ll be lifting an X-Wing fighter out of a nasty shit-bog and the next you’ll be blowing up freaking Death Stars. Awesome! Everyone loves that! Win! Now apply all that to your freelance writing career. Trust me. It makes mad freaky sense when you think about it.

Those with the stickwithitness and drive to keep pushing towards their goals will inevitably meet them or move on to bigger and better ones. Making a go of it in this industry is tough business, and a lot of great writers with the potential to shine wind up tearing down shop and moving on to other things. Too many folks give up before they even really get started. It’s easy to be lured away by the comfort of a weekly paycheck or buckle under the mountain of frustration that can build when you hit a brick wall again and again. Cherish your small victories, build on them, and keep flinging yourself at the gates until you smash them down.

Want to read more Shop Talk? Why not scope out the archive for past installments!


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3 thoughts on “Shop Talk: On Setting Goals

  1. My only problem with this post is that Luke blew up the Death Star before Yoda did the whole “lift an X-Wing with his mind” thing.

    Other then that, great advice. I remember working at volunteer sites with a whole bunch of people committed to making it as a game writer. Years later (can’t believe it’s been years) I see those who stuck with it writing for the big name publications while most of the others have disappeared.

    It’s not always about who’s the best. Sometimes it’s about who can go the distance. (Cue “Eye of the Tiger’)

    • Haha! You’re so right RE: Death Star blowingupism.

      Also right about stickwithintess. You don’t have to be an AMAAAAAZZZING writer to get far in this industry. If you do good work, are persistent, and have saint-like patience, you can totally get somewhere.

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