Two years ago I was spending every evening logged into World of Warcraft, joining a team of 19 others at least two nights a week to do end-game content. On the other days I was socialising, making in-game gold, getting gear upgrades, and so on.
I’ve identified as a gamer since I was a teenager. My games have tended to be the ones you lose yourself in for hours. Before WoW it was Age of Empires II or The Sims. As someone with anxiety and depression, the achievements I got in games were often the only feelings of success I experienced. Sometimes gaming made my depression worse, but other times it was all that got me through the week.
Was I addicted? I certainly had phases where I needed to play, rather than just wanting to, but they came and went on their own. I don’t think I can liken my experiences to those of someone who has truly struggled with addiction, but I do acknowledge that my relationship with gaming was not always healthy.
I had a lot of friends in-game. People who aren’t gamers or haven’t grown up in a fandom think that online friends aren’t real friends. They’re wrong. Sure, some were only acquaintances, but some are friends I know I’ll have forever, no matter how many times we drift apart and come back together.
‘Gamer’ was a big part of my identity. Whenever I had to write social media bios, it always got a mention, and I think everyone who knew me, knew that I played games.
But earlier this year I gave it up without even really thinking about it. I haven’t banned myself from playing, I’ve just shifted my priorities.
I want to be a writer. A full-time, indie-published, fiction writer.
Having a book published is not the win condition here. Kameron Hurley is an incredible, traditionally published author but she often tweets about the realities of author income and how she can’t really afford to go full time on the money she makes from her books. As an indie, you do get a higher cut of the royalties but one published book isn’t a living wage. If it does very well, it might pay the bills for a month, but it’s unlikely to sustain itself.
I really admire Lindsay Buroker’s approach: she has often talked about how it’s her volume of work that allows her to write full-time rather than any single success. She did a round up late last year of how she’s streamlined her process and I take a lot of inspiration from her. So I write as often as I can, for as long as I can, with as much speed as I can. I plot and outline before I write because that helps my efficiency: less time breaking my writing flow to figure out what happens next and less wasted words. The more I write, the better I get.
Now when I have ‘free’ time, I don’t open a game, I open a Scrivener file or an outlining spreadsheet.
I was a Gamer, but now I’m a Writer.