You have become 1 better at Writing.*

You have become 1 better at Writing.*

John of recently equated word count to XP (that’d be eXperience Points in gaming parlance, not the Microsoft product.) I loved the idea of writing as part of a game, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. Personally I’m still kind of fixated on time as a measure of progress – not time dicking around on Facebook when I’m supposed to be writing, of course, but the actual time I spend working on a story in some capacity.

So what if your max XP was ten thousand hours. What’s the level cap? Let’s say it’s 20. That’s 500 hours per level.

I wonder what level I am, how many hours I’ve put in over the past seven years.

Today I went over all of the projects that are on my mind right now, the things I am doing and want to do in the next few months. I decided to do work estimates on them, just for kicks, to see how many hours it would take to get them done, but also to see how many hours I’d get out of it toward that goal of ten thousand.

I came up with about 225 hours.

The sheer number of them was a little overwhelming and I needed to prioritize them.That was hard, until I started looking at them in terms of what part of ‘my writing’ they affect. I came up with categories, and then it all fell into place. Here is the result:

(A larger, more legible version can be found here.)

Those categories are New, Public, Career, and Commitments. The Commitments column is for my volunteer stuff. I have three different organizations I do stuff for now. I never know when it’s coming or how much time it will take until it’s been assigned, but once it’s been assigned it always takes priority.

So what with the day job, kids, social life, and sleep, I think I will probably need until March to finish all of that.

I also plugged everything into Klok, and made sub-projects out of each of the things that need to happen before I can call any one of my index cards ‘complete.’ If this all seems like making too much work out of it, I can assure you, this isn’t work, it’s fun. I need to see progress, because I don’t feel it. All around me my writing friends are succeeding in ways that I am not – that’s just part of the deal, and I don’t begrudge them a moment of it, but I need a way to keep myself buoyed on the hard days, because the hard days come.

I figure if I get to ten thousand hours and still haven’t sold anything, then I can give up. Fortunately that is a long way away.

*This was the old EverQuest verbiage whenever you gained a level in a skill. Not quite the same thing as leveling your character, but the wording always amused me. I am seriously considering adding an XP bar at the bottom of the cork board. Everything up there doesn’t quite gain me half a level. :)

5 thoughts on “You have become 1 better at Writing.*

  1. Excellent! You’re one step closer to becoming a professional writer! Now that you mention it, I realize that every writing or editing position I’ve ever held, including my current one, required estimating time to completion on various projects and prioritizing them accordingly.

  2. I’m gonna be a total dork here. I haven’t played D&D in decades, but if I remember correctly, you have to get twice as many experience points for any given level as you got for the previous level. So you’ve got to put in 5,000 hours just to go from level 19 to level 20, 2,500 hours from 18 to 19 and so on. You get those early levels out of the way pretty quickly and then the skill is hard won later on. Not that this equates strictly with the arc of a writing career. I’m just sayin’.

    Maybe EverQuest is different. Back in my day we had to struggle. We had to roll dice and write things down on paper and stuff. Haul loads of books. And then there were the bugbears. You kids have it so easy.

  3. Matt, you’re totally right. Hadn’t thought it through that far (or been willing to do the math.) That is exactly how it is now, too, for we ‘kids’ (a whole two years younger than you! Ha, *I’M* still in my *30s*. Nice lawn, old man!) ;)

    Matt wins the internet for today.

  4. Okay, but now I’m thinking about it some more, and the other factor there is that the mobs on the next level also each *give* more XP, by virtue of simply being harder. Same is true for writing – I know that the two shorts I’m working on now are relying on structural techniques I couldn’t have even attempted two years ago. So it kind of scales still.

    You know, we’re going to have to come up with a writers version of Chore Wars (

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