“Be natural my children. For the writer that is natural has fulfilled all the rules of art.”
“The following is a contributor post by the Hopeful Sega Mage.”
Last year, I made the decision to quit my own blog and become a full-time contributor to The Well Red Mage. It was a tough decision, but I simply wasn’t enjoying my blog anymore. I was finding it hard to stay on top of writing several times a week and I wasn’t happy with the direction of my blog. So I deleted the blog and plucked up the courage to ask Red if I could make The Well Red Mage my blogging home.
Red was pretty gracious and accepted my request, on one condition…he wanted me to solely review Virtual Boy games. No, I’m just joking, no one is that cruel. No, Red asked me to write a post detailing why I’d made my decision. That was eight months ago and it’s taken me a while to be able to sit down and write my thoughts on the decision.
It’s not because The Well Red Mage is a bad site to write for, far from it. It’s more because I wasn’t sure what to write. It took me a few months for me to clear my head after some frustrating months of unhappy blogging and soul searching and I was just happy to write some game reviews. I had begun to resent writing with my blog as it was taking me away from actually playing video games. Instead of playing and enjoying video games, I was worrying about having topics for my blog, as well as promoting and designing my site.
As I started to write this piece, the first non-gaming piece I’ve written in nearly nine months, it all started to make sense. The reason I enjoy writing for The Well Red Mage so much is because it fulfills me as a writer. I’ve learned that I don’t like writing themed articles or trying to discuss a myriad of different subjects. In my spare time, I just want to play games and analyse them, breaking down all their qualities and discussing them with others.
I’m not interested in SEO or site layouts, I’m only interested in working through my backlog and researching game history. At The Well Red Mage, I’m allowed to focus on that. There’s no pressure on me in what direction to take – Red allows me to write about which games interest me and gives me free rein on my thoughts and opinions. He even trusted me to write about Altered Beast, which I thought was a brave decision given my love of it!
You may be wondering why I didn’t set up my own game review blog. Truthfully, I didn’t see the need – to me, The Well Red Mage is a fantastic place to review games. I’m a big fan of Red’s 8-Bit Review scoring system as I believe it’s a great way of analyzing a game. Rather than just slap an arbitrary score on a game, we’re encouraged to discuss all aspects of a game, from the obvious (graphics, sound) to the more abstract (adaptability, replay value). This is important to me as I think games need more analysis. Sure the graphics may be amazing, but do they inspire the player? The music may have been designed by a major pop star, but does it suit the atmosphere of the game it is part of? I love digging down into every aspect of a game and the 8-Bit Review system is perfect for this.
Another thing I’ve learned is that good reviews require good editors and that’s another reason I wanted to write full-time at The Well Red Mage. Red has been great from day one – he demands a high standard of writing, but understands that pressuring writers isn’t the way to get the best results. As a father of two with a full-time job, this is crucial to me. Sometimes I have to deal with the real world and haven’t time to write or play games. Sometimes I’m too tired from trying to juggle writing and my full-time commitments. I’m grateful that Red understands this – I need to be in the right mindset to write and his calm approach has really helped me to find that mindset.
Red is easy going and supportive of all my writing, but he wants a high level of quality for the content on his site and that’s another reason I like writing for The Well Red Mage. I want to be pushed and I want to test myself. As editor of my own blog, I was too tired and blinkered to subjectively edit my own writing. I’d be gritting my teeth after publishing a piece, seeing lots of mistakes and not being happy with the flow or narrative of my writing. With The Well Red Mage, I’ve got someone to check my ramblings and keep me in check.
As I mentioned before, I’ve got a job and family to take care of and I have to write in fits and spurts. Having Red to oversee what I’m doing and give me some direction is important to me as it assures me I’m doing OK. I’ve gained a lot of respect for bloggers who maintain their own blog – it’s a lot of work plus the confidence needed to keep writing and not doubt yourself was something I struggled with!
In summary, running my own blog was a struggle for me as I had to write, play games, and do all the dull blog work. By taking a step back and focusing on what I want to do, I’m finally able to enjoy myself again. That’s why I started writing really – it was meant to be fun. I’d lost my enjoyment for writing over 18 months of blogging when trying to work within a blog structure. By going back to the main reason I started writing, I’ve found my love of writing returning to me. By becoming a full-time mage, I’ve got my writing groove back and I couldn’t be happier.
The Hopeful Sega Mage is a Sega obsessive who shouldn’t be approached by members of the public. However, he can be found on Twitter at @carrythegary and here at The Well-Red Mage, if you wish to discuss Japanese Mega Drive artwork and the greatness of Altered Beast.
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