Sunday, April 17, 2016

QUEST: Write a Book without Turning to Sludge

Welcome to my 

Write a Book without Turning to Sludge Life Quest!

I've been thinking about how to write another book without slipping into the Slough of Inactivity like I always have before.
When I was young, I thought the isolation of writing a book sounded romantic, but it's really not. Or not for me, anyway.

I sort of dread the months of working alone,
s  l  o  w  l  y  turning into Jabba-the-Hutt pudding, socially, emotionally, and especially physically.

And yet I want to write it, just better than I have before, leaving the pudding part out.

I  got the idea to frame it as a Quest from the book SuperBetter: A Revolutionary Approach to Getting Stronger, Happier, Braver, and More Resilient — Powered by the Science of Games
(2015) by game designer Jane McGonigal, which I found researching digital game fandoms.

She developed the game when she suffered a severe concussion that left her bedridden and suicidal in 2009. She thought, "I am either going to kill myself or I'm going to turn this into a game."
So she designed this recovery or real-life challenge game.

[McGonigal's 2012 TED Talk on SuperBetter]  

Like in other role-playing games, you...

1. Adopt a Secret Identity [design your avatar]

2. Recruit Allies [ask friends (real or imaginary) for help playing the game]

3. Battle the Bad Guys [whatever is holding you back, hurting you]

4. Activate the Power Ups [any tiny thing that makes you feel stronger or happier, even if that's just, say, brushing your teeth]

 I was reading the book in a coffee shop with Marz a couple mornings ago, and I immediately turned to her and asked her to make me a prize for starting my game.

She sent me this Secret Weapon:
"10 seconds of Starsky playing basketball in his own special way–quite like a baby rhino!"
(Do you recognize the music?**)

Wanna play?

*Note: Wow, do reviewers at the NYT and the New Yorker ever sneer at SuperBetter. They reminded me of why I stopped subscribing to them years ago.

The NYT says, "McGonigal developed her ideas ­after suffering a concussion that left her with lingering headaches and suicidal thoughts."
Yeah, it's a self-help book and includes exclamation marks. You can sneer, but no one who suffers migraines would call them "lingering headaches", and her "suicidal thoughts" meant she wanted to die.  

** The music is from Bruce Springsteen's "Tenth Avenue Freeze-out" (in concert, 1978) -- a good Power Up song!
[Here's the whole concert.]


Zhoen said...

Intermittent positive reinforcements, very effective.

Isn't harsh and inappropriate snark what the NYT is known for? I don't read them, mind, but that is certainly my impression.

Frex said...

Yes. IPRs work for me. I've never been motivated by punishment, only by TOYS!

The NYT aims for a neutral tone of voice, not snark, but some writers (and editors) still manage to convey that *their* world view is the one that counts most--or even, indeed, the only one.

In the case of the review of SuperBetter, I felt the reviewer rather overlooked the point of "living gamefully" in the face of deadly pain and despair in their eagerness to point out the overuse of exclamation points.