4 Things I Learned About Writing from Playing World of Warcraft
Carol Tice | 38 Comments
World of Warcraft avatar

Author Willi’s avatar makes her way through the virtual world of WoW.

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.

38 comments on “4 Things I Learned About Writing from Playing World of Warcraft

  1. Robert Jennings on

    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…
    Robert Jennings recently posted…Are These 3 Things Keeping You From Getting Writing Jobs?My Profile

  2. Jesse Lanclos on

    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!
    Jesse Lanclos recently posted…How Much Are Testimonials Costing Your Company?My Profile

  3. Melissa Weir on

    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 on

      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 on

        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.
        Williesha Morris recently posted…5 Tips From a Top Marketer’s MistakesMy Profile

        • Melissa Weir on

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


      • Carol Tice on

        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 on

          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.

  4. Erica on

    “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!
    Erica recently posted…Your Checklist—Uncelebrated Freelancer MilestonesMy Profile

    • Williesha Morris on

      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.
      Williesha Morris recently posted…5 Resolutions For When You’ve Really Screwed UpMy Profile

  5. Carrie Smith on

    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!
    Carrie Smith recently posted…How to Effectively Tweet Your Way to a New GigMy Profile

    • Williesha Morris on

      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.
      Williesha Morris recently posted…5 Resolutions For When You’ve Really Screwed UpMy Profile

    • Williesha Morris on

      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.
      Williesha Morris recently posted…5 Resolutions For When You’ve Really Screwed UpMy Profile

  6. Sarah Russell on

    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!
    Sarah Russell recently posted…Two Great “Well Paid Writer” Training Opportunities for You!My Profile

  7. Everevil on

    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’.

  8. Julia Weston on

    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.
    Julia Weston recently posted…What now? Another character development exerciseMy Profile

  9. Icy Sedgwick on

    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.
    Icy Sedgwick recently posted…Tales of my London Trip: Part IIMy Profile

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