Since the start of the year, we’ve been extremely lucky to be nominated for several awards by some amazing bloggers. The latest is The Blogger Recognition by NekoJonez from NekoJonez’s Gaming Blog – for which we’re very appreciative – and as part of the nomination, recipients are expected to give two pieces of advice for new writers.
This seems to be a common theme among these awards: helping new bloggers find their feet and giving those that have been around for a while a bit of well-deserved acknowledgement. It’s just another aspect of the WordPress community that makes it such a great and friendly one to be a part of.
Our nomination from NekoJonez this month got me thinking: what’s the most important thing I’ve learned in the several years I’ve been blogging? There are tips that make writing easier over time – planning the structure of posts, organising a schedule, staying focused for example – but would I say they’re critical? In fact, the most important advice I could give was written by Vincent from Alpha Signal Five in this post from last year.
I need to read and write for their own sake, and adjust my own expectations of creating.
The site that Ben and I wrote for previously was heavily focused on reviews. The policy we created for them meant we played video games analytically and dissected their every aspect: plot, gameplay, audio and visuals, replay and innovation. At the end of each post we’d assign a score which would then correspond to a final award. This site lasted for around three years and during that time, we forced every title we touched into a neat little box.
My world outside of blogging was similar in a way. I manage a team that oversees a best-practice framework within IT (that’s the best way I can explain it) so my job tends to centres around processes and data… lots of processes and data. Each side of my life was based on logic and followed a structured set of rules – and woe betide anyone or anything who dared to step outside of those boundaries.
Over time, I admitted something about myself: I don’t enjoy writing reviews. I don’t particularly enjoy reading them either. I started blogging in 2013 as a creative outlet but during those three years it had changed into something very different and less fulfilling. I realised that I’d started to attempt each new gaming experience in a way that was almost clinical, with one eye always on the lookout for material for the next article, and I’d forgotten about the sheer joy that comes from playing video games.
I couldn’t describe it any more perfectly than Vincent did himself:
Basically before I’ve finished seeing, reading or hearing something, I’m already reviewing it in my head in case I can drag a good 500 words out of the experience. And because of this (albeit small) mental shift, I feel like maybe I’m missing out on enjoying something for its own sake.
Taking the decision to wrap up our old site after several years was difficult, because we’d spent so long hiding behind analysis and review scores instead of writing from the heart. Our new home has given us the chance to remember that a video game is more than the sum of its parts and to love them for what they are. I’m no longer interested in numbers and final awards; I want to know about the journey a title takes you on, the way it lets you step into another person’s shoes, and how it makes you feel.
That’s the most important bit of advice I can give: play for playing’s sake, and write because you have something to say rather than something to post. The world of blogging is a wonderful place and you have something unique you can bring to it.
Thank you to NekoJonez for inspiring me to write this post – you should go check out NekoJonez’s Gaming Blog as soon as you possibly can – and to everyone who has nominated Later Levels for an award. And hello to all the new bloggers out there: you’re doing great.
Video game lover, Later Levels blogger and SpecialEffect volunteer. Big fan of wannabe pirates and fine leather jackets.