Monday 30 May 2016

Soul-searching, the blogging edition

A few prompts were floating about in the gaming blogosphere earlier this month that I wanted to reply to, but I never got around to it. One was Tyrannodorkus' post How you can use gaming to explore your love for writing and Rakuno's response Why I write. The other was the revelation of some well-known bloggers that they were playing with the thought of giving up on blogging altogether (check Liore, Belghast, Waiting For Rez). That gave me a good scare. They seem to reflect totally opposing sentiments, but somehow in my mind they make a connection by expressing the two conflicting feelings I have about blogging - sometimes even at the same time, to make things even more confusing.

Why do I blog?

Yes, why do I blog? Blogging is some kind of addition to me, and I'm unable to tell whether it's a good or a bad one. Sometimes I know what I want to write and inspiration flows. I get excited when I press the Publish button and I can't wait to see how people will react. At other times, like now, I feel obliged to write something because it's a certain day (why did I decide to try out a strict posting schedule again? To hell with science!), but I can't pick a subject or proper form. Today I'm just writing the words down as they come, so this post will probably be very unstructured. Let's treat it as an experiment.

Part of the answer is probably that I have some form of drive to write. Like Rakuno I loved reading as a child. I wanted to be able to write compelling stories myself, too. So, at the age of nine, I decided to (like Shintar) write a diary as a writing exercise. I was hardcore and kept a daily writing schedule (even though I didn't call it that back then). I wrote down everything I did and kept this up for years. I still have those diaries; if I want to know what was going on in the head of ten year old me, I can just pick one up. I don't want to, though, the amount of cringe is too strong for me. Somewhere in my late teens I lost interest in keeping a diary because I sensed my entries became either too factual or cringe worthy.

How I ended up blogging about games was pretty arbitrary and I won't bore you with that today (I've written about it before), but what fuels my blog is only partly a desire to write. I need to write a lot for my studies at university and my blog sometimes suffers because of it (or the other way around, which would be the bad side of the addiction). When I write a lot professionally, my desire to blog melts away.

Another part that motivates me to blog is the need for a creative outlet, and then I don't just mean writing. I get a lot of pleasure out of making my posts look good, do something with the billions of screenies I take in a manner that I enjoy looking back at a later time. I'm a perfectionist, so I can't just write a good article without picture, nor can I publish pictures without a story (that's too shallow, I want my blog to be about something).

I've learned a lot because of blogging: I've learned to write even when I don't have inspiration; I've learned to invent pictures for posts that don't naturally come with one (*cough* this post *cough*). I've learned some measure of HTML coding, my English has increased significantly, my fear to publish what I write has been greatly reduced and I've become much better with Photoshop and design in general (the ARPil badge is the first thing I made that I'm actually somewhat proud of). The problem is that I feel I've reached some sort of cap and so I find myself wondering if it isn't time to try something new. That's the other thing about me: I'm obsessed with learning new skills, as a hobby. And gaming is just one of the many things I like to do.

One thing I've picked up again is drawing. When my dad died earlier this year, drawing was something that helped me cope with it, in an almost meditative way. I try to draw more regularly to improve myself. What I would find really, really cool is if some day I would be good enough to do commission work of game characters. I'm good at animals and plants, though, not people. I'm focusing on hard and frustrating drawings that will teach me new things rather than easy fun and relaxing ones. Thing is, I'd love to share this road with people. Blogging about it could be extremely motivating (after all, I'd have to make something in order to post about it), but I know nobody will be interested. It is also very scary to post drawings, because they are personal to me and I'd feel miserable if people say they suck.

Nobody lives in a vacuum. I started this blog after I saw Lothirieth's blog (which now lies dormant) and have unconsciously adopted the customs of the gaming blogs around me: my game character pseudonym and avatar portrait are two clear examples of this. However, I don't like to be in a box and have been enjoying the more personal touch of geeky lifestyle blogs as well. I do feel like a gamer at heart, though. It boils down to me wanting to write about everything and be everybody at once, but obviously there isn't enough time in a lifetime to do so.

There is no clear conclusion to this post, alas. What I want to write about and how I want to go about it are topics that occupy my mind with every post I write, and I'm probably not alone is this. I hope to end this struggle by some day finding my perfect blogging formula, but until then, this little imperfect corner of the net that's mine will have to do.


  1. You know, I think every blogger gets the feeling of nuking their blog at some point. Even myself. Although in my case it's been more out of frustration with the software than anything else. But this is like a case of a bad craftsman blaming his tools and I knew what I was getting into when I chose these tools. But I digress.

    Personally, I'd be interested into seeing you blogging about your drawings. I just find the whole process fascinating (specially since I am drawing-challenged), specially when we compare how much the style of a person evolved. Just looked at any webcomic that has been around at least for 3 years, is updated regularly and has the same artist throughout its run. Then compare their style from when they started and how they draw today. The only con to it is that I don't think I'd be able to comment much beyond "This looks awesome!" and after some posts of that it does get tiresome to all parties involved.

    But I can also understand the fears of people just rejecting it. It is kind of the reason I don't write stories. I am so worried about what other people may think that I find myself unable to write fiction. That and I think tabletop RPGs kind of corrupted me. I have an easier time coming with settings and character backgrounds than actual stories. -_-

    More personal posts isn't a bad idea either if that is what you feel that you want to write. I mean, just because your blog started as a gaming blog doesn't mean you have to stick to it forever. This is a hobby. So write what makes *you* happy.

  2. As someone who doesn't have a schedule for posting, it helps. As a reader, I become more comfortable with who someone is as a writer when I read more of their works, whether it is about their specific gaming or their thoughts about gaming or their personal life or their thoughts about blogging. You have a definite style that you use when posting and that makes it more enjoyable as well. I hope you keep posting, but if you decide to go in another direction, I only hope you have learned from what you've done and find something that helps you more.

    1. A wild Kanter appears! Really cool to see you're still around, even though you gave up on blogging (*hugs* for that btw, must've been a hard decision). I'm glad to hear you enjoy my style, thank you! And don't worry, I'm not planning on stopping the blog entirely all of a sudden. I am still enjoying it. I just felt like writing my thoughts down, hoping it would give some insight. :)

  3. Haha, I love your description of ten-year-old you! I haven't kept a diary at all times of my life, but the one I kept in my teens sounds very similar to yours! I would write into it every single day for years, and it was stupidly factual. "Today in school, the first lesson was maths. We learned about [subject]. The second period was biology, where we learned about [subject]." You could reconstruct my whole curriculum during those years from that diary, but not much about what was going on in my head!

    but I know nobody will be interested

    I'm glad Rakuno already contradicted this, but I just wanted to add my voice to it as well. I'd definitely be happy to see more of your drawings! I also think that drawing and blogging can go pretty well together, as you can use a post to talk about the finished piece, why you did it the way you did and how happy you are with it.

    Finally, it may have been a bit forced on your part, but I love the screenies of Rav doing various emotes you used for this post! Very fitting and I love how Corellia even provides a matching background.

  4. I love reading when I find a post that has been submitted, Writing for me was a must during my times in private places and keeping a journal helped others try to help me, I even had a livejournal myself that I kept with a friend who was helping me. I've always written though, whether it was poetry, short stories, whatever. I just love to write, and I am a self taught with Photoshop, Corel Paintshop Pro, GIMP, etc. I use to design desktop wallpaper for myself, So yeah, I'd love to see your drawings as well. I can't draw a straight line to save my life, but am always interested in others drawings from RL. so give it a go.!!

  5. I agree with you, blogging is like an extension to me now too. Couldn't think of not blogging.
    I tried scheduling myself to post, but it kind of took the fun out of it and was worrying me too much. I had to go back to just posting when I had something I wanted to post about.
    Motivation is hardest for me, some weeks I'm in a big funk and just shut myself off from the world, some weeks I can't blog enough. The mood comes and goes at it's own will, unfortunately. :(
    But I do fight it, now and again, and push out a silly or simple post.

  6. I know a lot of other blog I read have been struggling with this in some form or another. I'd love to see some drawing posts though <3

    1. Aww, thank you. After all these positive responses I decided to stop being a coward and am working on a drawing post now. It's super exciting!

  7. You're definitely not alone! I struggle with all of this on an almost daily basis. At times, when the inspiration just isn't coming to me, I don't post at all. This has been happening more and more lately...I started the year wanting to write three posts per week and that didn't last long at all, haha! I guess what it really comes down to is just blogging about what brings you joy. If you want a gaming blog with lifestyle blog touches, I think that works perfectly! I love the creative outlet that blogging has provided me, but I also sometimes feel like it's a second job. I guess it's all about finding a balance!

  8. More drawings from you is always briljant! Yeah!

  9. Oooh, can't wait to see the drawings!


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