As of January 30, 2017, I have logged over 130 total hours in the grossly underrated, forever Alpha-stage zombie apocalypse survival game 7 Days to Die.
Not all at once. Not in a matter of days. Just many, many days of multiple hours of fighting off the undead with a hand-crafted iron club.
There’s a little more to it, obviously, or I wouldn’t have spent so many hours lost in fierce strategy and dreading all multiples of the number seven.
But I’m not even sorry about how I spent those 130+ hours. Because over the years, gaming in my spare time has made me a better writer.
Now that’s not going to make sense to a lot of you reading this, because on the outside looking in, gaming is an escape. You sit in front of a screen and immerse yourself in a fictional story, interacting with fictional characters (and/or real people playing as them) in a fictional environment in not-real time.
But isn’t that pretty much the same thing as reading, or watching TV or movies? Gaming is just a different way to absorb a story. And there are also people out there who just don’t personally see the value in reading books or watching TV. To each their own.
I think anything that gives your brain room and opportunities to generate new ideas is worth your time. Playing games is time consuming and it’s definitely not work (unless you’re lucky enough to get paid for it), but not everything has to be about work or being productive. I’ve had weeks where all I’ve done is work, and by the end of that, your brain’s completely fried. Forget creativity – it takes everything in you by that point just to remember how to turn the shower on.
Could I use the two or three hours I spend in the evenings for writing instead of gaming? Sure, I technically could. But I don’t need to. There’s an important lesson here – you are allowed to take breaks. Writing 24/7 isn’t going to make you any more successful than spending eight or nine hours a day working and the rest doing whatever you gosh darn want to.
Some of my favorite video games have inspired new ideas for my [unpublished, but still fun] sci-fi fiction. I can guarantee the many, many hours I have spent gaming over the past 15 years or so have not, and still won’t, go to waste.
What’s a ‘brainless’ thing you do to give yourself time to relax, recharge and free up space in your brain for generating new story ideas when you’re not busy writing?
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.