One of the best things about working in the video game industry is the fact that I get to work with so many creative and talented people. In order to make a game, it requires all different departments (3D & 2D Artists, Level Designers, Animators, Sound Designers, Programmers, music Composers, QA (game testers), Writers, Producers etc.) to work together and fulfill the vision the company has for the game.
A few years back I worked at a smaller game studio where I got to have many interesting conversations with the Art Director/Game Director. The way he talked about the vision for the game we were working on (Pid) was really inspiring to me. I remember complementing him at one point and saying he was really talented at what he did, and he quickly dismissed the concept of natural talent. In his case, he told me, he had dedicated so much time in learning the craft of drawing and how the complexities of different colors worked, that he would’ve been pissed if all that time hadn’t payed off. Look up the games Pid and Shelter and tell me those aren’t absolutely stunning.
That conversation got me thinking about the word talent and how we humans quickly use it when describing a person who’s really good at something. “You’re so good at playing the guitar. You’re so talented.” Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, Mozart and so on, were absolutely amazing at what they did. And I think it’s an easy way out in saying they were born with some kind of gift, instead of talking about the endless hours they spent in refining their respective craft. ( I recommend Spike Lee’s documentary “Off the Wall” if you want to learn more about Michael Jackson’s thoughts on the art of music).
What I have come to realize when talking with all amazing people I’ve met over the years, is that many of them truly dislike the word talent. A majority of them, if not all of them, have dedicated a big part of their lives in learning their respective craft. Day in and day out, they have worked and worked to get better at what they’re doing. So when someone from the outside tells one of these creative people they are so talented, it might actually in some sense diminish the blood and sweat they have sacrificed to get as good as they are.
Writing has always been a part of my life in some sense since I was very young, but it wasn’t until a few years ago when I completely changed my perspective on writing.
The major difference is that I began to consider it as a craft, something I could learn and get better at by reading about it and practicing.
At one point, I simply started writing the book because I could, but what I wrote was crap. I believe it was about 35 000 words into the novel before I realized I wasn’t respecting the art of writing and decided to throw it all away and do it differently.
If I wanted to write a good book, I needed to study writing (on my own, I haven’t taken a course on writing) and learn what the best authors did. And I also had to dedicate non-writing time to much more reading then I was currently doing.
And from that day, when I threw away those 35 000 words, I went forward with a completely changed mindset. Below is a picture of all the books I’ve read and studied on the craft of writing, and holy moly, I have learnt so much from doing it.
There is not a single thing in my life that I feel I have improved faster in than writing.
Just picking up stuff I wrote 5-6 years ago, I can barely finish them without wanting to slap myself for how bad they were. And another thing: writing the novel I’m currently working on is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. That tells me I’m doing something right. There has been/and are so many days when I’m absolutely exhausted after work and want to do nothing else than to lay on the couch and chill. But that’s when the voice in my head kicks in and tells me the book isn’t gonna finish itself. If I want to make this dream of mine real then it’s all on me. And that’s the beauty of it. I have complete power over making the best damn book I can write, and if I fail for some reason, there is no one else but myself to blame. Thinking about it that way really lights a fire under my ass to put in the hours needed.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to return my attention to the novel 😉