kay, so I started playing this game, see? A little sea adventure called Windward. Clever thing, rather like Pirates. You get a ship, you sail around a random board, you trade between towns and sink pirates.
I started playing about a week ago. I sunk a literal boatload of pirates – I’d see those black sails and I’d volley instinctively – must have sent an armada of pirate ships to the bottom. And trading. Pick something up here, take it over there. Repeat.
I played and played and played.
Then I started reading the bases for the game and its reviews. Grinding was mentioned. The context? One of the game’s fans, responding to a bad review, noted that the reviewer must not have played for more than a few hours. Sure, you had a sail around a lot of sink a lot of pirates, but then the game started to get really fun. After a few hours. Maybe a dozen.
And that’s grinding – a game that makes you repeat a process, over and over, until you win. You have to grind away at it until you get to the end. I mentioned that in my review of Metagame, where boring everyday tasks are made interesting with the addition of a scoring system.
Why I am mentioning this? Well, because during all that sailing, all that trading between one town and its identical twin elsewhere, I was throwing away time. I could have been writing. I could have been biking. I could have been doing anything else. But I was grinding.
Hey, nobody accepts a book anymore with the idea that it really doesn’t pick up for the first 500 pages. But games get a pass?
No, I think, as writers, we need to worry about the grinders that are introduced into our lives. The binge-watching on Roku. The video games we play late into the night. The bar scene. The overwork. All this burns into our time. And even if we aren’t writing, we could have been spending our time at better, more noble, things.
Don’t grind. Live.
And for God’s sake, don’t let your writing become grinding. If it does, you’re doing it wrong. Every sentence, every word should be fresh and new.
Scattershot warnings here, but good ones. Watch what you do with your time.