Writing is hard. There is no way around this fact; the longer you work at it, the more tedious the tasks become. Writing is my passion, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t fall into the same ruts as everyone else. When you begin taking your work more seriously your investments become compounded and the flittering fingers on keyboards occasionally morph into plodding digits squeezing words from a stone. It is easy to fall into a familiar pattern- sometimes this is good, sometimes this is comforting, and sometimes the rut grows so deep that you begin to feel trapped by the very thing that you adore.
As I said, writing is hard. When the world is throwing as many distractions as it can at you, some days it is all too easy to throw in the towel and tell yourself that tomorrow you will make up for the ground you lost today. I have fallen into this trap many a time. And as a survivor of the pits of despairing inspirations, I have learned to combat them.
Nano was the first venture that taught me to view my work in a different light; it was exciting, exhilarating- playing off of my competitive nature to get me to sit down every night and string one word after another when all I wanted to do was curl up in bed with a movie. Fifty thousand words in one month, however, can become a bit daunting. And that is where the games come in. If you go to the forums you will find them- speed writing challenges, the fifty headed hydra, and my personal favorite- the word crawl. There are many games to keep you invested, to keep you plugging away at your work. And now, my friends, I have a new one to introduce you to.
I am a sucker for a good story, for a plot. Even in my fitness routines- my favorites are the apps that give you a distraction from the difficulty of what you are doing. There is the one that pretends you are a super hero or a space invader and you work out as you work your way through the story. Or the Zombies run app- an audio game that plays as you go for your daily jog, to keep you moving and excited to get back out there. And now we have a writerly version.
About a year ago I ‘won’ a beta subscription to a website called ‘4thewords,’ I believe it was something I wound up with through Nano, but that doesn’t particularly matter. It was a fun interactive website full of daily writing challenges that appear in the form of monsters you must battle (your timed word count is what determines whether you win or lose). You work your way through a storyline while battling creatures and collecting items- your success is dependent on your word count. The concept was something that I quickly fell in love with. However, technology can be a fickle friend, and , as they were still in beta, the site was fraught with technical bugs and glitches. It reached a point where my frustration grew too large and I stopped ‘playing.’ Opting to come back after a while when some of the issues might be a bit more ironed out. There was no blame to be hashed out- the idea was gold- but a bit more time would allow it to ripen.
Fast forward to now. Yesterday I was curious what happened to my old writing venture, so I came back. And behold- the beta clouds have passed, and we have taken the first bold steps into the early access mode. I have to say- I am so impressed with the huge strides the creative team has made in expanding and enriching the site. The visuals are bright and eye catching, the storyline is a bit more developed, the monsters are as cute and ferocious as ever, and the outcome is the same- it gets me writing again with a feverish determination that I haven’t felt in months. I will candidly admit that I have been struggling lately, and I have needed a boost. I have desperately been looking for that catalyst that will remind me why I do this every day. I have found it. I am on the adventure yet again.
The downside: there is now a subscription fee to the site, but at $4 a month, I think it’s worth it. Lucky for me, I got a few ‘crystals’ that I can use towards me fees for a couple of months- a thank you gift in exchange for being a part of the beta. For those of you who have never tried it- there is a free trial month if you are interested in giving it a whorl. I’m not trying to advertise, and I don’t get anything for sharing this site with anyone. But as fellow writers, it seemed like a fun thing to pass along. Perhaps I will meet you on the trail, my friends. I hope you are willing to take a leap and try something new. You might be surprised what you wind up with.