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On RPGs, Focus, and the Battle to Complete Your Writing

For a time, I was a gamer. Or perhaps, I’m still a gamer at heart, in that way that you never really give it up. Although I don’t play as much now as I used to (subject to change, as Diablo 3 is out this week), there was a time when gaming was my preferred means of  wasting time entertainment.

During that time, role-playing games—or RPGs, as they’re known to the initiated—were the dominant iteration. I spent time in Hyrule. I explored all of the worlds the geniuses at Square could come up with.

From an early age, they developed my problem solving skills, as well my appreciation for the value of those skills. I believe that RPGs helped me develop creatively, fostered my love of reading, and in some ways even helped shape me as a writer. In some ways, they made me better; I learned a lot of word 9-year olds generally don’t know. I understood character development, and the depth of story lines.

However, I think they also created and encouraged habits that have had some severe influences on my development.

As any true RPG player will tell you—especially those who played high fantasy RPGs on consoles—you want to do everything, uncover everything. Anytime you come to a crossroads in a dungeon, you explore one path, but always make sure to come back and hit the other one.

After all, if you don’t go into the OTHER cave, you might miss a treasure chest. That treasure chest might contain something valuable: It could be a powerful sword or piece of armor that will help you get through the dungeon. It could also just be a health potion that you can add to your collection of 45 other potions that you don’t use because it’s generally faster and easier to use regenerative magic to heal yourself.

No matter what, you would HAVE to go back and look; it’s this sort of strange internal drive, a response to an unwritten directive to explore every room and every crevice. On those occasions where a door locked behind you and you couldn’t go back and look, you’d be left with the choice of either: re-loading a recent save and start from the beginning (we’ve all done this); or proceed to the end of the dungeon with some sort of resigned compunction that you’d committed a crime against the natural order of things.

But you hadn’t.

Which is the damnable irony of it all. Games then were designed in a very specific way; if you needed something—really and truly NEEDED it to beat the game—the game was going make sure you got it.

If, at the end of the game, you needed the Earth Crystal to activate a portal taking you to the Big Boss, then at some point in the game, you’d get it. You’d wind up in dungeon about halfway through the game, and somewhere in that dungeon, you’d find the Earth Crystal. You HAD to find it, because there’d be some door that you couldn’t open unless you had the Earth Crystal, preventing your exit.

All of those extras were irrelevant. If you missed something—if you were ALLOWED to miss it—then it ultimately didn’t really matter. It wasn’t essential to the game, to the quest. If you missed that potion, you were fine. Even if you missed something kinda awesome, which seemed important, it might not have been. Sure, it’s nice to get a new set of gauntlets—the boost to your Armor Class is wonderful, but guess what? Chances are, when you get to the next town, there’ll be a better set of gauntlets to buy.  An important point that seems irrelevant to someone exploring a dungeon with the ardency of an addict looking for the next fix.

I’m not the only gamer who’s noticed this, by the way. In his snarky analysis of Skyrim (appropriately titled “5 Personality Disorders Skyrim Forces You to Deal With“), CRACKED writer Robert Brockway observes:

[…]I totally acknowledge that this is a personal failing within me. This terrible habit – of scouting out every single other pathway before the main one – may be a leftover impulse from older RPGs, where many areas became inaccessible after you advanced through them. So if you wanted to make sure you found all the secret spells and legendary weapons, you had to explore every other path before the right one, otherwise the story might drag you, kicking and screaming, away from the best toys. That’s no longer the case with modern games. Most let you visit and revisit any area at any point, but it’s too late for me: The behavior is learned, and the damage is done.

Both Brockway and I are aware of the strangeness of our behavior, and it’s source, and—while I can’t speak for him—there’s something that becomes clear with the benefit of hindsight gifted 10 years after having last played through Final Fantasy 2 (known as Final Fantasy 4 in Japan, and, incidentally, my favorite of the series).

And that something, which should have been obvious, is simply this:  those gauntlets aren’t really that important.

It doesn’t matter though. Not if you’re like me. Because if you’re like me, you need some help. You’re a gaming god, a fantasy fiend—you’ve got RPG OCD, and damn it, you need those fucking gauntlets. But you don’t.

Even if you find an item that does have some magical property that helps you in that specific area of the game (you’re in a fire dungeon? Oh, look! Gauntlets that improve your defense against fire!), you don’t NEED them. You can beat the dungeon without them. You can beat the game without them. You can win the princess, free the kingdom, save the world without them. In other words, you can do your actual job—finish the game—without the gauntlets.

And now, years later, even though I recognize the behavior, and the reason for it, I am a victim of this strange RPG-OCD. This behavioral disorder makes you want need to try everything – you’re always afraid you’re going to miss out on something. Makes it hard to order at a restaurant (what if the ribeye is better than the strip steak?) hard to select a workout (what if I go on this mass gaining program, and then I decide I want to go to Mexico, but I’m not ripped enough!?), and even hard to select a city to live in (I love Cali…but if I leave NYC, I might miss media opportunities!).

In other words, you never, ever, want to feel like this:

Essentially, role-playing games have fostered a mild fear of commitment, because you’re afraid you’ll miss out on stuff. I won’t bother making obvious jokes about how this might have affected my personal life (har har), but what I will talk about—what I’ve really wanted to talk about this entire time—is how this affects me as a content creator.

The main job of anyone who writes isn’t really to write something: It’s to finish writing it. 

What I’ve come to realize after a few years of having my income derived primarily from things I write (whether it’s articles or programs), is that nothing really counts until it’s done. Magazines don’t pay you for half finished articles, and clients wouldn’t accept incomplete programs.

Obvious, of course, and no one, reader or writer, needs to see that in print to realize it.

However, despite my acceptance of the fact that my job is ultimately to finish the main quest, my RPG OCD and years of gaming have conditioned me to not only accept but to seek out side-quests and mini-games. To look for things that are not truly essential to the task at hand, but that allow for expression or embodiment of some other feeling.

Put somewhat more directly, allowing for a potent dose of the insidious drug to which every writer is at least partially addicted: distraction.

Every writer has a different process, and they differ so widely that it’s very hard to spot common threads. Save one: every single writer I know—and probably all the ones I don’t—has, as part of their process, procrastination. Which is, by turns, either the genesis or the product of distraction.

To write and bring ideas from heart to page is, at least for me, to engage in battle with oneself. 

In his work on writing (appropriately titled The War of Art), Stephen Pressfield agrees. No stranger to writing about battles great and small, Pressfield makes a number of compelling arguments in his book.

The best of these is the first, and it’s simply this:

There’s a secret that real writers know that wannabe writers don’t, and the secret is this: It’s not the writing part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write.

If I may take it a step further, I’d like to suggest that nearly anything that must or will be written is, I think, already written. It lives deep within the heart and mind of the writer, who must only bring it out. If only it were that simple.

Writers seek—crave—distraction. It’s inherent in the process.

Those writers who can acknowledge this and find a way to master it are the most productive. (A great example of this is Craig Ballantyne, who is so ruthlessly opposed to allowing for distraction that he does not have internet in his home, and spends just 180 minutes per day of internet access in a coffee shop, all to avoid the temptation of distraction.)

Swinging back to me personally, and back to RPG OCD, we come to my specific issues and how I contend with them.  For me, distraction manifests itself in a few particular ways, which don’t prevent me from writing per se, but rather make my writing an incredibly circuitous process.

I am not so much distracted from writing as I am distracted by writing—and this allows my RPG OCD to take hold.

As I working diligently on an article I mean to finish by the end of the day, I will mention something in the piece, sort of as an aside. And that’s when the trouble begins.

This reference, whether it’s to something related to the article or just some pop-culture color, will cause a bizarre chemical reaction deep in my brain. Thoughts and ideas begin to boil, deep down below the surface; the ideas germinate and eventually force their way to the top, percolating through the thin membrane of my willpower, and taking center stage.

This idea, whatever it’s origins, must be given some attention. The other cave, now presented, must be explored.

It pains the gamer in me to say this, but there is very clearly a certain lack of discipline inherent in allowing yourself to explore these caves, because they interfere with your job: finishing something—anything.

It is the job of both the hero and the writer to finish the quest.

Remember:

I know this. I know it. I arm myself with this knowledge daily. And yet then I go, even so knowing, into the darkness of the other cave, seeking treasures. Not always. Just usually.

At the best of times, there is a simple reorganization of thoughts and words in the existing article, allowing me to give voice to the idea that must be born. Other times, the thought was one I fleshed out long ago, and I am able to address the attention hungry idea by embedding a link, joining these related ideas permanently. But those are the best of times, and not frequent.

More often, this idea demands a sentence or a paragraph; many times, it becomes a tangent. If you have read my writing, you are familiar with these things, although for your benefit I have often tried to rein them in.

In worst instances of such frenzied non-productivity, the thought, the tangent, the distraction becomes unruly; it must be plucked at the root from the place that gave it birth. The idea—though no longer at home in the piece of writing that birthed it—is not done with me. Snipped neatly with a deft combination of COMMAND + X, the idea is moved a new home. A blank document will be the new home to the idea; scratch-marks clawed onto the wall of the other cave.

Regretfully, I must say that I have a good number of such documents. An astounding number, a depressing and maddening number of caves, some less than half explored–because my RPG OCD is so severe that even when exploring the other cave, I’m still tempted by ideas that spring up while writing, and then all of a sudden, I’m in the other, other cave.

There are moments of victory, I think, and I am getting better. I have at least, become better at recognizing when an idea will become a tangent. At these times, I am able to explore the cave slightly, and—to stay with this video game metaphor (despite having thoroughly exhausted it)—mark a spot on Link’s map, promising to come back to it. This allows me, at times, to focus on the task at hand, the quest I’m on, and finish my article. At times.

Controlling these impulses, the desires to explore every cave that presents itself, is a daily struggle. It is the daily struggle; the great battle I must wage every time I set pen to page, meaning to give voice to heart. I fail often.

But, as is the case with any type of art (a word I detest applying to my writing, which I both love and loathe by turns, and in equal measure), there is occasionally victory in failure.

While rare, there are times when one of those errant notions becomes more than just a seedling. The paragraph becomes a tangent, and then it becomes an article until itself. Sometimes, that offshoot article is better than the root from whence it sprung. Sometimes, a stray thought leads you into a cave where there are treasures worth finding; not necessary, perhaps, to the completion of the quest, but which make the journey more enjoyable.

It is at these moments where you realize the beauty of writing, and the reason we write. Because there are times, though not many, when even when you lose, you win. 

Very probably, I will live a good number of my days cursing Hironobu Sakaguchi for creating the genre-defining Final Fantasy series, for which I blame this inconvenient affliction. However, there are days when I thank the heavens for his creation—for through it’s creation, and that of my disorder, I have given breath to some of my best work.

This very piece of writing is one such example. Not in the sense this this is some of my best work; I have no illusions of that, and in fact the opposite will be shown over time, or so I must believe, if I hope to improve at this craft. Rather, this piece is like those others in the way it came to be: Quite by accident.

Of all things, this article began a Facebook status. Meaning only to make a silly comment about the relationship between RPGs and writing, I wound up with about 937 individual instances of word-vomit. With 937 words written and more to say, I drew forth my shears, and with a quick cut/paste, entered into a cave I didn’t think I’d explore; at least, not publicly, not with you, not yet.

It’s likely the case that any bit of writing concerning itself with video games cannot be good writing, so I won’t call this that, but I do hope at least to give some perspective; not on the writing process, but on a writing process, even if it’s just my own.

But, if nothing else, there’s honor in honesty, and I have here been honest, and laid bare some piece of myself that many of you may have wondered about, opening myself to your scrutiny; and there remains a bit of myself (and my work) here that I am not ashamed of. Perhaps, if I am very lucky, I’ve made a deft stroke here or there, and given you something worth reading and sharing.

This piece—this blog or article or rant or crack in the armor—was born of a moment of hesitant creation, a moment where I reluctantly followed my RPG OCD into a cave that I just could not leave unexplored. It’s frustrating as hell, to have such moments so frequently, for through them the quest is prolonged, and sometimes forsaken—at least for a time.

Some moments turn out okay, though, and you have to appreciate them. If you don’t, you’re dead. At those moments, you have to step back, shake your head, and just appreciate the awesome randomness and the random awesomeness that can come from unnecessary, irresponsible exploration.

Because, really, it’s not all bad.

After all, those fire gauntlets are pretty fucking sweet.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

WRITERS and BLOGGERS: I want to hear about YOUR biggest challenges with producing! Is it distraction? Motivation? Idea generation?

About the Author

John Romaniello is a level 70 orc wizard who spends his days lifting heavy shit and his nights fighting crime. When not doing that, he serves as the Chief Bro King of the Roman Empire and Executive Editor here on RFS. You can read his articles here, and rants on Facebook.

  • Allan

    If only I could write with complete and utter focus. I bet NZT would help, if it actually existed. I know Adderall exists, but does it really work? Maybe watching Bradley Cooper knock down a few NZT’s will inspire me to write.

    *spends 2 hrs watching Limitless

    Damn, how badass would it be to have the foresight of a van rear-ending a taxicab. Bitches would totally think I was a savant and getting them in bed would be that much easier. Shit, I gotta 6am appointment tomorrow and I need to get to bed.

    ^ Me last week. True story, unfortunately.

  • Jon Fernandes

    This article is a stable in my bookmark. I can relate in so many ways; especially when I am writing an article on one topic and i digress off into a completely different topic. Thought I was the only guy who wrote like this lol.

    You are on to something here.

  • Leor Giladi

    I can’t believe how accurate this post is. It would seem that I’ve lived with RPG-OCD for my entire life but could never diagnose the condition (probably from FFX, D2, and Ocarina of Time). At the end of any given day I will have no less than 5 tabs open of random internet search tangents that I have yet to finish, a frustrating and simultaneously hilarious cycle.

    TLDR; awesome post, relates to me, lulz

  • Jere Foley

    Bingo… though I have learned that I have to schedule “tangent time” (which I also lovingly call “research”).  I give myself an hour, timed on my phone’s handy timer, to start at Wikipedia and “research” a line of thought that will come up next in whichever novel I’m currently working on.  I then take notes, copiously.  When that hateful marimba sound pulls me from my cave system, I close the browser and write.  It works because I’ve given my inner gamer that time to wander… but it’s also a great way to fire up the creativity engine at the start of writing time!

  • John Balash

    Another beautifully written post. I follow you as much for your written word as I do for your exercise tips and advice. I totally agree that motivation is the hardest part of the creative process and I struggle with that myself. Completion is everything when it comes to creating but can also be intimidating and hard to commit to just like with working out and training.

    Video games have been a big part of my life and development as well and I’m glad they’ve had such a positive impact on your prose.

  • +50 gauntlets for this article.

  • Variation on perfectionism. I get involved in polishing that prose, perfecting that paragraph.
    A useful antidote I’ve found is NaNoMo–National Novel Month. You agree to crank out 50,000 words over the the 30 days of November, so the trap of polishing and reworking is shelved for a while (one can always edit after it’s over, and they have forums for those who feel the need to be distracted).

    This has been an interesting blog post.

  • Stacia

    Roman, while I don’t writearticles or blogs I found this to be so true of my way of doing things too. I find myself always off on another tangent, after only 1/2 finishing the project at hand. I have ordered programs and downloaded them to my computer and promptly moved on to the next thing without ever getting (or TAKING) the opportunity to learn anything.  I subscribe to so many business related email newsletters and blogs that I consistantly have 250-300 unread e-mails in my inbox. and I cannnot delete them without reading them to find the treasure that may await inside. Yes some of them turn out to be nothing but what if the next one has something really valuable inside and I miss it???   I have ideas of things I want to do but never seem to have enough hours in the day to accomplish all I would like. and then a new thought comes to me and I’m off again.    Hey I just thought of something….. 

  • stev0512

    write 3 pages a day, in the morning without fail, about anything & everything doesn’t matter, don’t underestimate how this helps your day – google Julia Cameron

  • Nygell

    Good article. Although, there is something to be said about the enjoyment of the journey. Red Dead Redemption and Skyrim have a taken a chunk of my time that should have been spent sleeping. But touring around in those worlds was just so darn fun!!

  • Ted

    It’s funny, I’ve always hated RPGs for that very reason. The sheer immensity of possibilities was so daunting that I couldn’t handle it. I knew that my brain matter would be all over the wall if I wasn’t absolutely certain that I’d explored everything to build the perfect character using flawless planning and procedure.

    On the other hand, I certainly understand the writing style of following every thought to its end. So it seems to be a bit of a chicken or the egg conundrum. I had the obsessive compulsions without ever playing RPGs and, in fact, that is exactly what has kept me from enjoying RPG-style games. I played ShadowBane and WoW for a bit but lost interest when I couldn’t get over the fact that I might be missing something. I’ll stick to RTS games.

    Although I plan to buy D3. I’ll just never play the campaigns.

  • Darryl721

    Keep up the great work!

  • Darryl721

    Really nice piece Roman. I’ll be starting my own health and fitness blog soon, but already I know exactly what you talk about in this article. I mean, that’s always a goal in writing about something, being focused on a single topic. And what initially seems like support for a larger theme is actually a seed that’ll sprout forth a whole new article.

    And as a side note, I love the personality that you inject in your writing. I mean I’ve probably read about 60-70% of the info on your site being an avid fitness blog subscriber, but putting your own flavor into your writing makes another back specialization or intermittent fasting article not just tolerable; but enjoyable.

  • Oh, if you only knew how many times I replayed The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the past on SNES just to dig up that last heart of health. Or how much easier and awesome it was to beat Darth Malak when you finally found and wielded the force lighning resistance belt in KotOR?  

    This is a really good piece man. I know exactly how you are feeling at these times – the feeling that the grass might be greener on the other side is a bitch and leaves you feeling uncomfortable, split and therefore also passive.

    For me personally, when it comes to my professional life (and sometimes also personal) the easy choice was always choosing to do nothing (of the stuff that you were supposed to be doing in the first place) rather than producing something worthwhile. I am indeed very good at distracting myself and it is a struggle every day to stay focused and follow the game plan.
    It is just so damned true that it’s usually not the task itself that is hard – it’s actually sitting down to do it to begin with. A lot of it stems from a need for perfection, which basically comes from overwhelming options; the need to explore all the dungeons.     I always found it fascinating how hard it can be to motivate yourself to finish a task at hand despite the constant and overwhelming evidence that procrastination is like masturbation – you’re only fucking yourself in the end. Great post on the topic bru! 

  • Great blog post.  Sometimes, the ones about whimsical topics, like video games, can be the most substantial.  

    What if the need to explore uncharted territory was always there… roleplaying games just nurtured that instinct?

    VS

  • Paul

    Hmmm… I think I just got distracted by reading this post!  I am glad to hear that others suffer the RPG affliction.  All the years hiding in disgrace…  Now I can be free.  But truly the hard part is realizing there is something interesting out there and not reading it.  I failed today, but I can’t say I regret it.

  • TonyGentilcore

    It wasn’t until I read Zinsser’s On Writing Well – in which he described how many writers agonize over every sentence, every word –  that I knew I wasn’t alone.  For me, my writing process is hell sometimes.  I can’t just sit down and write for the sake of writing.  I have to make sure that every paragraph (and thought for that matter) is perfect before I move on.  In a sense, I get on my own way – and it sucks.

    But at times, as you noted, it can be bliss.  And the random exploration into well, randomness, can be pretty money.

    But man, it’s taken A LOT of practice (and mind numbingly cans of Spike) to get there.  Awesome insight Roman.  Thanks for sharing.

    •  Ha! I mention this EXACT thing in the book I’m working on with Hyson/Schuler. You’ll get a kick out of it, Tony.

  • Hey John, RPG’s – well I have to confess to being a previous addict of World Of Warcraft – played (lived) it for pretty much 6 years.  Had to go cold turkey to get over it – at one time I had 2 accounts with multiple high level characters, yada yada (or is that Yoda?). 

    Anyway – back on topic – my main blogging issue is to provide information that is current, relevant and meets my clients needs. 

    I’ve found two things that work best for me;
    1. Personalise it – use a real life example to create a story that hooks the reader – prefrably with humour.
    This week it was based on a comment from a friend of mine.  We were talking about the facilities at the gym and moaning about how the lockers eat your tokens and the hassle of trying to get them to open or get your token back. I mentioned that I always use 2 lockers and before I could say why, she said ‘Why do you need 2 lockers – is one for your ego !’ :)

    2. Ask for it – Ask your readers / clients what information they want you to provide / research
    (It’s always abs !)

    Oh, and one other thing – don’t oversubscribe on RSS feeds or information sources.  It’s harder to dissemiante too uch information than to do fresh research on a topic.

    Vern

  • Kjchinavare

    To answer your question, distractions. Distractions are my biggest challenge in my writing. I read a quote recently that one can tell how serious they are about writing by whether they have an internet connection to their writing computer. I couldn’t agree more.

    The ideas come to me. The stories. The characters. They manifest for weeks as I develop every angle while taking notes, writing a story outline. Then, when all is ready, I have to focus and forget. Focus on the writing and forget about the tweets, the distractions, the temptation to click that blue e and have some fun. When I come to the end of whatever it is I am writing I realize that the blue e is not where the fun is, the fun is in the creation and ending of a fun tale

  • ChuckS123

    My caves are Emails – I have to skip many interesting ones.

  • MNMAC (Mark)

    I love to write and am pretty damn good at it … people can relate to my writings … in a personal I thought you were talking just to me way.   Pretty F’n cool.  However my biggest challenge is not the distraction, but rather the little voice tat shows up questioning the worthiness of the writing, is it good enough, detailed enough, and oh by the way … who the hell are you to be writing this.  It always takes me a while to thank him for is visit and then sending him on his way to go distract you!

  • Nic

    I couldn’t agree more…

  • Bruce

    The last ten minutes were just a blur to me, except for this
    “There’s a secret that real writers know that wannabe writers don’t, and the secret is this: It’s not the writing part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write.”
    That hit hard. Thanks Roman

  • Jordan Eaton

    Ha this is so true!
    I hate being on the internet free to wander when researching as i just get bogged down researching (exploring new caves) random shit that is, although going to help me in the future, has absolutely no part in the task at hand.
    One thing i will say though, i suffer immensely at this kind of ocd, any game i play i always make sure i collect/explore everything but i have friends who are nothing like that and just blast through a game to the finish. Where’s the fun in that! Haha

  • Great article and well written! 

    I have an impossible time getting started whenever I want to write something.  I will constantly put distractions in my own way to keep from starting.  However, as you said, once I start I end up going in a direction I never thought I would.  And it just snowballs from there.

    Cheers!

  • Katherine

    This is a fantastic post. I love getting to glance into your mind and your world which then allows me ( a mom) the briefest of glimpses into the minds of the young men I call “my” children. Fabulous, marvelous. I am forever in your debt Obi Wan.

  • Jim

    This is quite an interesting article. Being a writer of short fiction, music, prose/poems, non-fiction press release work stuff, and now my own website articles I can totally relate.. I never tire of reading about another writer’s process..the part about procrastination is so true..when there is a deadline the process gets ramped up and you have no choice but to get it done and often the best writing can be done under this pressure..but not always…

  • Gabe

    I started up my own blog, ruggedstrength.com, and I must say, gaming was my life at one point and now fitness is. Idea creation is super tough, coming up with well articulate sentences and flowing thoughts are some of the things I struggle with.

  • Mel

    I started blogging back in January and I only post once every 2 weeks (if I am lucky) because I feel so passionately tied to the messages I send out into the world. Every word, every idea is thoughtful and reflective of my thoughts and experiences. I put those out there to in an effort to share my interest and open the dialogue about health and wellness. What you said about finishing it being the hardest part is right on for me. I write, re-write, edit, change my mind, add to it, subtract from it, and eventually post it. My biggest challenge is taking an idea and making it useful for the readers of my blog. My blog doesn’t get a lot of traffic, but I care about the quality of the message despite that fact. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It’s nice to know that I am not the only one who struggles with finishing my posts :)

  • K_m27103

    Writer?  You’re a writer?

    •  In the sense that I get paid for what I write, yes. In that I’m any good at it? One day, I hope.

  • Jason

    Also as an additional note, now I want to play Final Fantasy 2 (or 4 if you prefer) again!

  • Kellie Davis

    Generating ideas for nonfiction is definitely a huge struggle with me. I can take a client’s idea (I’m a professional writer) and spin it into gold. But I don’t trust that my ideas will generate interest. Sort of a self-annihilating thing, I guess. This is something I’m working in. I take writer’s workshops to help me sort out this pain-in-ass issue. Otherwise, ghostwriter for life! 

    •  Essentially, you’re saying that you can write other people’s ideas (ghostwriting), but not your own.  Put another way, one might interpret that as: you trust your skill to say something well more than you value what you have to say.

      Is that it? Or, perhaps, are you like I once was: you simply felt less comfortable with putting your own stuff out there, because of the criticisms. 

      Took me a while to get over that.

      • tayosol

        How did you get over putting your stuff out there?

      •  @99481c91ac08cc894a6ae90c872bbe68:disqus  – mainly, just time and consistency. I found my voice, as others have mentioned. But, didn’t hurt that there are so many numbskulls writing about fitness that it wasn’t hard to feel about about my own.

  • Nick Nilsson

    I’m a recovering (on non-recovering, thanks to Skyrim) RPG addict with the same issues, man, going all the way back to Ultima IV on my Apple 2+ clone computer.  I make my living writing about training and fitness and I can sympathize.

    •  Glad you stopped by, Nick! Dude, as much as I dig Skyrim (and I assume Diablo 3), the old school RPGs just do it for me.  Even the NES stuff like Dragon Warrior. The PC stuff like King’s Quest…man. Takes me back!

      • right on man.  With awesome 8 bit graphics…really forced you to use your imagination.

  • Great article, Roman! I struggle with this often myself writing…distraction is my issue, and also being caught up in whatever ideas, storylines, characters (Aspiring screenwriter and novelist here) and researching for my work that I often get mired down in the non-writing and what started off like determined focus becomes distraction.  all that to say is that I need to FOCUS only on my writing at hand…after I get a hot steaming cup o’ java from Starbucks! :)

  • Damn..I love it. Still a cool guy playing video games and repping them! Respect!!!! 

  • Kidinamansworld

    Roman – in order to be productive, I need to be unproductive. It’s a fact. Distraction is an inherent part of the creative process. That is where the inspiration comes from. It applies in writing and the office. As a blogger, I encounter it all the time, and even touched upon it in a recent post myself: http://kidinamansworld.com/2012/05/10/waste-your-ass-off/
    Check it out and let me know what you think of the site! Thanks! Keep up the awesome work…

  • tayosol

    My problem isn’t distraction, well it isn’t just distraction anyway… it’s emerging from the convoluted network of caves that have been explored as ideas in their own right or as tangents off others.  It’s my lack of filtering that leads me to nowhere; like you pointed out you don’t get paid for the “scratch-marks clawed onto the wall of the other cave” or half written articles  I wish I could still claim your affliction of RPG OCD as I had too had that need to scour every possible path before the right one, but sadly those traits have slowly been lost along the way.  Looking forward to your next post from one of your other other caves.

  • Distraction is a big part of my writing process. Instead of avoiding it, I embrace it. I find that allowing myself extra time to think freely and explore unrelated topics produces a better end product.

    • Interesting spin. I like it – any tips?

      • It’s really just echoing what you wrote – allowing yourself detours in the creative process often leads to a better finished product. More likely, it will lead to a better, new result. Just because your current project is what you’re working on, doesn’t mean it’s the best project you could be working on. 

        I’ve found that being able to let go of poor work that I’ve put significant time into is usually a good move in the end. Following my curiosity on creative detours is often how these better projects get started.

    • tayosol

      I just found this to be true… was stuck on finishing a project for school and decided to follow a distraction that lead me back here and am full throttle back on the project getting things done.

  • Darren T

    I had no idea others had this same affliction when it comes to writing. I’m not very gifted at the power of semantics and syntax, but reading and writing are passions: I just have so many ideas, schematas on the brain, that never seem to come to fruition because of constant distraction about something ELSE that spurred from the original thought. Like you said, it is already written, it is just getting TO writing it that I have an issue with. I loved this post.

  • My issue’s distraction for sure.  I’m so add. But I have made it work for me. With most things I work in spurts of highly productive zone activity. Everything is blocked out and I’m going to town. All of a sudden one day I end up with more content than the previous 2 weeks.

    I’m just working on getting those productive days closer together, i guess.

    •  Yeah, right there with you. Those productivity upswings are incredible, need to get the most out of them If I could plan them, I’d be the most productive person ever. Well, except for Craig.

  • Jason

    I never really realized this was happening to me! RPG’s and Gaming in general has had this effect on me and I am glad to have a greater awareness of it now! Thanks Roman, I can now continue my journey of growth!

  • Great article. You made me realize I have the same affliction haha.

  • Joe

    I just started blogging about health and fitness two months ago.  As I have no problems generating ideas for the blog that is not a problem…yet.  Since everything is kept basic, do to my predominately client fan base, it will become progressive over time, as each post builds on the past.  But some of the biggest challenges is time and energy.  I have a very busy schedule, just like many people reading this blog, and it is very easy to want to stray away from the computer and just lounge around and do nothing.  Also to add on top of the post, a big problem starting a blog is finding your own voice.  The creativity involved not only to put out great pieces, but also pieces that reflect my own personality.

    • tayosol

      I would agree with you Joe about finding your own voice being key to your blog.

    • goodwince

      Joe excellent point about finding your own voice. The main reason to start a blog is to share a piece of yourself! I’d recommend just making sure to do what Roman suggests and just keep putting pen to paper. Eventually your voice will come out! Just think mostly about sharing the knowledge you’ve gained and that your continual writing will progress just as you said your knowledge will for the blog.

      • Joe

        Thanks guys.  I have been just writing in hope that eventually it will become much easier to fit my own voice into my writing.  I am a newb so I trust that over time it will come. 

    • goodwince

      Apparently I can’t reply to your last comment Joe so I’ll write it here. Currently I have too many dungeons and not ready to settle on one quest to success. You’ve done more than many and including me just by starting. Therefore, you’re a newb but even less of a newb than me. You’re level 5 newb to my level 0.

      I’m just considering starting the game. Good luck sir!

      • Joe

        haha thanks, I have been training, and a strength coach for a while.  Just what I needed to do to level up haha.

  • goodwince

    I’m not a writer, but I do something that I consider not too far removed. I’m a programmer and write code all day. To most non-programmers  code writing seems like it lacks creativity, but I find that it just has it’s own grammar rules and constraints. 
    I can completely identify with this post and find distractions to be something I crave. I’ve been seeking out ways to weed out these distractions for awhile now. My problem with writing/programming/anything is that I start going down into the dungeon and always want to check out the other path in the dungeon that’s definitely off the path. While I’m sitting at the fork in the road between the paths. Instead of just choosing one, I opt for distraction. 

    Slowly getting better though. This piece resonates with me and I really appreciate you taking the time to actually finish this quest! Thanks for writing it. Eloquently put! 

    • Of course you’re a writer! Writing code is writing, and it’s a complicated language with a number of rules that I think must be obeyed – but there are probably others that can be bent or broken at times?

      Would be a very interesting discussion

      At any rate, you’ve absolutely touched the heart of this post, and it’s good to know that it applies to tech, as well!

      • goodwince

        Rules in code writing can be rigid and structured, but the true creativity comes when you have to put multiple portions (or sentences in our analogy) into one cohesive, awesome piece! (It has to be awesome of course)  

        While your piece speaks of writing this really applies to all areas of life. I played RPGs on and off, but because I lacked patience I generally ran through the games. Sometimes to my detriment, I couldn’t even finish .hack because I didn’t want to go back and find an item I needed to beat a boss.  
        This article is referring to mainly what you value as important. I find when something I value as important is put in front of me I will destroy it with perfectionism. By destroying it I mean it never gets finished. Your article does such a great job of putting it in terms that every gamer can perceive!! One of my goals right now is to stop trying to be a perfectionist and just get things out the door. I’ll now be referencing “just get through the dungeon”.  .hack ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.hack_(video_game_series) )P.S. You’re welcome to discuss with me anytime 

  • Sam Olg

    So… basically RPGs screwed my life…
    Damn, I’ll have to begin all over again!
    *Restarts Life

  • This post is brilliant.  I’ve been suffering from RPG-OCD for most of my life, but I was never able to identify it before now.  The sources of my disorder were probably Final Fantasy 3/6 and Earthbound.  I didn’t realize I even had a problem until I made an attempt at blogging myself. 

    I’d be making my way through the dungeon, and eventually I’d find the exit.  Unfortunately, I can’t leave yet because I saw a chest earlier that I hadn’t been able to get to.  Sure, it might be something lame like a few gold pieces, but what if it’s a FUCKING FIERY SWORD OF DEATH BUBBLES?

    Long story short, I’d end up questioning my own intelligence, my affinity for blogging, the stupid name I chose for my blog, and the degree of my handsomeness.  Obviously I didn’t handle it as well as you do.

    Actually sitting down and writing is also a huge issue for me.  Last night I planned on squeezing the old wordweasel and seeing what sprayed onto the screen, but I ended up watching like seven episodes of Frasier instead.  Netflix is heroin for distraction fiends.