4 Things I Learned About Writing from Playing World of Warcraft

Carol Tice

By Williesha Morris

The massively-multiplayer online game World of Warcraft (WoW) is the game of choice for me and my husband’s family. When I started playing, I knew it wouldn’t be long before I started making connections between this game and writing.

Here are four things I’ve taken from my WOW gaming that have served me well in my writing:

1) You’re only as good as your weakest member

Whether in a team-based environment or in your relationship with an editor, one weak element left unaddressed can lead to trouble. Think about squabbles over writing technique or lack of communication.

Another important team is you and your writing mentor.

In WOW, there are instances or raids where you are fighting powerful monsters, and one person is the leader. On quests, a much higher-level character will assist a “lowbie” in gaining experience faster (referred to as “powerleveling”).

The writing process can be a solitary endeavor. Getting wisdom and guidance from more experienced writers can help you avoid pitfalls and quickly “level up.”

2) With the right gear, a newbie can succeed

One popular WoW strategy is “twinking.” With this strategy, low-level players are able to compete (and defeat) higher-level players.

How? They have the right gear and weapons to be successful.

For new writers, your “twink” could be a killer portfolio, productivity apps, books, or writing courses.

You will encounter folks who have only been freelancing for a year or two and have become successful. This blog is an example of useful information brand new writers can use to equip themselves.

Buck up your courage and get out there. Remember, every player in the writing game starts at level one.

3) Mundane actions lead to achievement

“Grinding” is the heart of WoW. Whether you are solo questing or building skill in professions such as mining or leatherworking, there can be a significant amount of grunt work. This could mean staying in one area and collecting the skins of dozens of monsters, or mining ore in caves over and over to gain expertise.

Guides can assist you, but no one can acquire those skills or experience for you. Persistent practice is key.

We’d like to think writers love everything they write or gleefully handle administrative tasks like marketing or website creation. That’s not always the case. But being a writer means always learn something new.

4) There is no “end game”

The level cap in WoW is 90, but game developers, of course, want you to stick around.

So an instance (an area where it’s just your party fighting elite monsters) is a new experience each time, and there’s always better gear to obtain. When you think you have completed everything, there’s brand new content.

The game of writing is the same. New books and blogs crop up to enhance your writing or give you an edge on the competition. New magazines are launched all the time.

I came back to WoW after a long hiatus and everything had changed. There were new expansions, which meant new areas to explore, new quests and new characters. Even my old character’s skills had been altered significantly.

It was like starting all over again.

That reminds me that it’s important to not stagnate. I need to stay on top of writing trends and technology to be successful.

What interests in your life teach you valuable freelance writing lessons? Leave a comment and share it with us.

Williesha Morris enjoys two different worlds when she’s not gaming – freelance writing and administrative consulting. You can read her blog here.

36 Comments

  1. Icy Sedgwick

    I play Warcraft too and I couldn’t agree more, but there’s a further point I’d add – there’s no linear structure to the game in that I can start my character in their start zone but then it’s up to me where they go next. Writing is the same – just because someone before you has done their ‘journey’ one way doesn’t mean you have to. You can pick and choose what you want to work on next in order to attain the next level.

    • Williesha Morris

      Oh, wow! That is so awesome! I love it! That totally needs to be point number five. Thanks for commenting. It’s absolutely true. You can pick up where you left off!

  2. Julia Weston

    I love this post. I’m on a break now (otherwise I’d never get any writing done!), but my husband and I played for a good year. I always looked at the game as a fun way to find story ideas, but I’d never considered the parallels between game strategies and writing strategies. Brilliant. Thanks for sharing this.

    • Williesha Morris

      Thank you so much! My husband and brother-in-law are extremely hardcore gamers. It seems now their interests have moved on to something else, but I’m determined to get to level 90! So there was a point where it was just WoW and writing. Do you have a hobby you absolutely love?

  3. Everevil

    Great post. I have been a WOW player for years, as has my whole family. I have not played in about a year and half because I haven’t had time.
    I love your ideas and I agree. Particularly with #2. If more people would spend time educating them selves they would find that the world opens up for them. When I decided to begin my freelance writing career I told my self I was going to spend two full weeks reading everything I could on how to write for the web, how to market myself, how to stay organized and more. It worked within one month I had paying jobs and I was able to go full-time after 3 months.
    Great post, thanks! Keep grindin’.

    • Williesha Morris

      Oh, wow! Congratulations! It’s so true. This is still something I’m learning myself. I haven’t done a lot of reading of fiction lately, and I literally have about 15 e-books I need to read. In fact, I actually guest posted about that as well. http://readlearnwrite.com/guest-post-why-i-stopped-reading/ You really can’t grow as a writer without constantly educating yourself.

  4. Sarah Russell

    What a great analogy 🙂 I’m not a gamer, but I do encounter many of the same parallels through my biggest hobby – dancing.

    As with WOW, gaining skill as a dancer involves sometimes-boring practice, finding the best teacher, figuring out where your unique strengths lie and – of course – continuous practice and improvement. It’s not always fun to drill specific movements over and over (just like it isn’t always fun to sit down and crank out written content), but it’s an important part of success as a dancer.

    Thanks for sharing this!

    • Williesha Morris

      Awesome, Sarah! Didn’t realize you were a dancer. I may have missed that on your site. Thank you for sharing your hobby. You are totally right. Anything you want to be successful at takes practice. Practice can hurt! Congratulations on mastering two different arts!

  5. Darnell Jackson

    Ha haaa!

    Good post.

    I had to read this one I was like what world of warcraft?

    Good point though.

    The weakest link in the chain will always be the breaking point.
    That’s why it’s important to find team members that compliment each other.
    That way each link is STRONG and has purpose without redundancy which leads to neglect and weakness.

    • Williesha Morris

      Ohmigoodness!! Did not realize I would actually introduce people to the game. Wow! (Get it? 🙂 ) Thanks for being curious and reading. That tip, I’ve found, is actually true in life. You really are only as good as your weakest link….so it’s really important you surround yourself with the right people and products. It’s also great to be in constant communication with your team.

  6. Carrie Smith

    This is a fun analogy and makes a lot of sense! As a WoW player myself for four years (I stopped playing after Wrath came out) I can totally relate. I never really thought about twinking out my skills, or the skills of other newbies, but that’s a smart strategy. Love your point of view Williesha, thanks for sharing!

    • Williesha Morris

      Thanks Carrie! Glad to see another WoW vet on here! There are several bloggers out there I think who have really “twinked” like Tom Ewer, Bamidele Onibalusi. They have managed to create a huge blog following in a very short period of time. Sophie Lizard also utilized a great Twinking method – she gathered up 1,000 blog subscribers with just a simple sign-up landing page and great content. I really admire (and, let’s be honest, envy! LOL) those folks. But they took the resources they had and utilized them to become pros almost overnight.

  7. Erica

    “Buck up your courage and get out there. Remember, every player in the writing game starts at level one.”

    If a new writer reads this and takes away only one thing, that would be it. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and like you’re not getting anywhere. But everyone starts at the beginning.

    As for “What interests in your life teach you valuable freelance writing lessons?” That would be the WWE. Those athletes actually spend more time marketing, practicing and working their butts off behind the scenes than they do actually wrestling. And if they want any kind of longevity, they have to know the business inside and out.

    Great post, Williesha!

    • Williesha Morris

      Hey, Ducky! Thanks so much for always keeping up with what I’m babbling about. 🙂 And yes, that really is the biggest point of the blog. It’s also just one part of the blog Carol edited really well for me. (Thank you, Carol!) I still feel like a beginner every time I log on to the game and every time I start writing. But you also have to remember to look back and see how far you’ve come. At some point in everyone’s writing career, they could actually serve as a mentor to someone just starting out.

    • Jesse Lanclos

      I love this, too. And if you don’t have the courage…just pretend. Act like you do. Fake it. Nobody can tell. Trust me. I fake courage all the time.

      Right on, Willi and Ducky!

  8. Carol Tice

    I’m loving the responses to this post! My son played WoW for years, so I loved this idea, and what Willi took from it.

    • Williesha Morris

      Thank you for letting me do this, Carol. I hope I did ya proud. LOL

  9. Melissa Weir

    Great post!

    Gardening has taught me tons about life and writing.

    Planting a tiny seed in April to get cucumbers in August is a process with a lot of steps. Which seeds, how much light, how much water, what kind of dirt and where to plant is just the beginning. Once the plant emerges you have to consider when to mulch, how to weed, what kind of fertilizer. You have to keep the bugs from killing it all along the way. And, most importantly, you have to have faith and a big bucket of patience.

    Writing is a lot like that. I skip steps at the beginning and don’t edit enough at the end. I pull the wrong stuff and don’t coddle the good stuff. At the end I’m left with a big pile of fertilizer.

    I’m learning though. Now when I start a new project I try to remember how much I love big juicy pickles.

    • Melissa Weir

      It took me an hour to write this comment. 37 minutes of writing and 23 minutes of bone-chilling, gut-wrenching fear of pressing the ‘Submit Comment’ button. Now I need a nap!

      • Williesha Morris

        LOL Melissa! Thank you for taking the time to write that comment. I really appreciate it. Gardening is a fabulous analogy to writing. Did you just create a writing prompt for yourself? 🙂 “Faith and a big bucket of patience.” I totally love that. Not a fan of pickles, but zucchini…mmmm.

        • Melissa Weir

          Willie, thanks for the thanks, and for the encouragement! And best of luck on all your writing projects!

          Melissa

      • Carol Tice

        Woah, Melissa…that’s not good. I don’t like hearing leaving a comment on my blog is that scary! We try to be a friendly place.

        I loved your analogy.

        Maybe try commenting more often…should help you work out the anxiety. And remember you are covered under my universal typo forgiveness policy!

        • Melissa Weir

          Carol, no need to worry. This was my first response to a blog posting of any substance. I’m so glad it happened here, in the safety of my writing tribe. With one down I feel empowered, and even a little giggly. And you’re right. I need to comment regularly to get past the anxiety. And now that I know of your universal typo forgiveness policy, I’m on it!

          Thanks for the encouragement.

          • Carol Tice

            Great — like they say in Chicago, comment early and often. 😉

  10. Jesse Lanclos

    Hey Willi,

    This is so cool! (Even though I don’t play WoW.) I loved “With the right gear, a newbie can succeed.” I took a writing course that led to fruitful relationships, besides the cool tricks I learned along the way.

    Carol always says that all you need are a few pro-bono clips from reputable sources, and you can literally parlay that into writing for major clients. I’m living proof that she’s right.

    But I’m still not playing WoW. (No time!) 🙂

    Well done, girl!

    • Willi Morris

      I don’t know what happened, but it didn’t post my original reply! Thanks, Jesse! You are quite right. I would have totally done this one for free, by the way.

      • Jesse Lanclos

        Shhhh. I don’t think you’re supposed to say that out loud. 😛

  11. Jevon

    Cool. I need to do some powerleveling.

    What about just keep writing to get better. I play online games also, but I don’t always have time. Sometimes I meet someone who is my level. And if I don’t play for a while, that person becomes much stronger than me when next I play because they kept at it while I didn’t.

    • Willi Morris

      That’s also a great connection Jevon! Practice makes perfect. Or at least better. 🙂

  12. Robert Jennings

    Great analogy, Willie. I like to think of writing as character development — kinda like Rocky. In the beginning, he starts off with virtually nothing, but after a ton of hard work, he wins the title and becomes a stronger person in the end.

    It’s the same with writing. You start out with a blank canvas — lots of potential, but nothing actually there. Add some time, sweat, and polish, and you come out with something you can be proud of. And, if you do it right, you’re just a little bit better at writing. Now, if only I could figure out to use a montage to skip all the stuff in the middle…

    • Willi Morris

      Love the montages! Wouldn’t life be much simpler with them? Thanks for the interesting analogy. So much could be written about when comparing the craft of writing to favorite movie characters. Sounds like another excellent blog post idea!

      • Carol Tice

        I’m always wishing the boring parts could be fast-forwarded, but there’s a GREAT movie about the perils of that with Adam Sandler, who I usually can’t stand, but this one’s great: It’s called Click. Came out in 2006.

  13. Niki Sinclair

    I have made these same observations when I play WoW. In fact, I could be the author of this post! Good job. Keep writing!

    • Willi Morris

      Yay! Another WoW player. I’m so so happy you could relate. That was my ultimate goal in writing this. Thanks for commenting!

  14. Bree

    I LOVE YOUR POST. What a creative way to combine two worlds that most people would not even dream of connecting!

    Yes, I’m a gamer. 🙂 I played WoW for a bit, but am more of a console girl myself.

    • Willi Morris

      Hey Bree! Thanks so much – it’s always nice to get a gamer girl’s perspective on your writing. It’s also nice to be able to incorporate both!

      I am a console girl, too, but I have had to adapt to hubby’s tastes. And it wasn’t hard with WoW since I had played it in the past.

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