My Battle with Writer’s Block

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I have competed in NaNoWriMo every year but one since 2011, to varying degrees of success. And by varying degrees of success I mean I have never won but I did finish some of the stories. This past year, though, I had an interesting experience.

Plotting started a few months before November. I had already been chewing on the idea for a while and it was finally the way I liked it. I developed the characters, laid out how I wanted things to unfold. I was ready to go.

64 pages and 23 days in I finally gave up. There were maybe 12 pages that I was okay with. Everything else I hated. I tried at least six different ways but could not for the life of me get it started. I liked the world, I liked the characters, but everything else I couldn’t stand.

So I shelved the story and tried to move on with my life. This is one of the worst cases of writer’s block I have ever had. Not counting the time I finished a story and then could not look at it again for a year.

I could not for the life of me figure out what the problem was.

I continued playing around with the idea every so often for the next few months, hoping I would find some way to make the story come to life.

That is when it happened. Two side characters who had been creeping along the edge of the narrative stepped forward, bringing with them the few pages of another unfinished story. One of them had existed since the beginning and the other showed up in one of the attempted introductions. Both were important to the story, though I could never quite figure out their motivations.

I was a little confused when they came up to me. We all sat down with a cup of tea and they told me the whole story. Their story. Piece by piece things started clicking together. It took some time and a two hour Skype call with a friend to iron out some of the details, but the story was finally ready to be told.

The main cause of writer’s block is because the story is not ready to be told. Either it needs more work or you personally are not ready to write it yet. Anxiety and insecurity can play a big part in this. I will dive further into this topic at a later date.

The good news is, there are ways to cope with writer’s block. Take a break. Try it from a different angle. Talk it through with another writer or storyteller or creative person. Drop your characters down a hole and see how they get out of it. Take them to the circus.

Whatever you do, don’t give up on writing. Just because you are stuck, just because it doesn’t look like things are working out the way you want them to, doesn’t mean it’s the end. Writing is hard. It is also very subjective. Keep an open mind and don’t lose hope.

You can do this.

The Audacity of Tenacity

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This is for the dreamers. For the people who have always had a goal that no one thought they can reach.

Some want to write a book. Some want to run a 5k. Maybe you want to start your own business.

These are all things I myself have wanted to do at one point or another, among countless other things.

The hardest thing can be finding the motivation.

We often find ourselves surrounded by people who tell us we can’t do it. They tell us that our dreams are silly. Why don’t we focus on other things?

Why don’t we find a real job instead of chasing some silly dream?

Here is what I say to that.

They don’t know your passions like you do. They don’t know your skills like you do.

When they look at your dream, they see it from their perspective and to them, it is impossible.

This is where the good news comes in.

It is very possible.

It will take a lot of hard work. It will probably require you spend a fair amount of time researching and learning new things.

You will have to try new things, learn new tools. You will have to network with people. You will have to step outside of your comfort zone a bit.

It is possible, though.

Your journey will not look like other people’s. It will take a while before those around you starts to appreciate what you are trying to do.

Don’t give up.

Keep chasing that dream.

Don’t fall into the trap of feeling like you have to prove yourself to the world. That just leads to frustration and feelings of inadequacy.

Start small. Create a plan. Follow the plan. Prove to yourself that you can do it.

If it doesn’t work out, so what? Failure is not the end. Trust me, I have failed before. It hurts. It may feel like everything is over, but its not. Failure is just a chance to try again.

Get up, dust yourself off, and try something new. There is always more out there for you to try.

Chase your dreams. Live your life to the fullest. Don’t let anyone stand in your way, least of all yourself.

Keep on working until your dream becomes a reality.

Be audacious. Be tenacious.

When you are done, the world won’t know what hit them.

Why the end does(n’t) matter

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In the 300th issue of Game Informer, they listed the top 300 games of all times.  Mass Effect 3 was ranked #99 (above Breath of the Wild!).

Yet I would be willing to bet money that there are still people who hate the ending.

The most popular argument is that the options you are given in the end don’t match up with the common themes of the game. There are also MULTIPLE jokes about color coded endings.

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You have the paragon and renegade control endings.

The Reapers prefer the synthesis ending (it personally creeps me out).

And then you have the destroy ending, the one ending I can’t bring myself to chose.

People have come up with all kinds of theories to explain the oddity that is the ending, the most popular of which being the Indoctrination Theory (I highly recommend Game Theory’s version)

I even have my own indoctrination theory about how the Reapers have been unintentionally indoctrinating all organic life towards their way of thinking throughout the entirety of their existence. More of that later.

Back the point of this post. My defense of the ending of Mass Effect 3.

No matter what your opinion of the ending is, there is one thing you probably haven’t considered.

Let me ask you a question.

How many times have you replayed the series?

I am currently on my third play through. The ending punches me right in the gut each time I play. It doesn’t matter that I pick the same ending, it still tugs on every single one of my heartstrings.

If there had only been one ending, it would not have had as much of an impact. If the ending had been everyone living happily ever after, I may not have been as compelled to live through the story again and again.

This is a game where all of your decisions matter. Where you represent the hope for the future. So, what happens if, in the end, you refuse to decide?  Then it is game over for everyone. The only way to ‘lose’, is to chose not to chose. 

I don’t know about you, but that strikes me as profound.

You can dislike the ending. You can wish there was something more, some way Shepard could survive.

But you will still keep on playing the story over and over again. You will relive the story of Shepard, maybe making the same choices, maybe not.

You will never forget the power of having your choices matter.

You will never forget the power of knowing that Shepard’s story will live on.

What legacy did your Shepard leave behind?