Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Quite some time ago, in the midst of working on a complicated scene, I tweeted a now unfindable remark; while I could not for the life of me see then how all the information I needed to convey would make it into the novel in the end, I knew with utter confidence it would eventually do so. I just needed to level up.

An artist friend of mine has been talking lately about some recent, significant improvements in her technique, and the time to shift the way she presents herself and her work online from that of a hobbyist to someone working toward a future career. It's not just a matter of getting better, but of a larger overall shift in her goals, ability, direction, and drive. A level-up.

So how do you know when you've leveled up? Here are a few handy ways to tell.

* Ability! You feel faster, stronger, more capable than you did before.
* Confidence! You defeat old challenges, deadlines, opponents, or dungeon bosses in less time than before.
* Hindsight! You have spare talent points to spend.
* Celebration! You were recently engulfed in a golden aura or heard an unexpected instrumental fanfare while performing some action.
* It's Super Effective! You don't understand any of these references but know you're no longer just a dabbler, hobbyist, amateur, or fiddler.

As predicted, eventually all necessary backstory and information fell into its pre-destined places within my wip, the sky opened up, and an ethereal chorus sang the glory of the moment. All was well. I just needed a few more to WIS and DEX, and had to take the Eviscerate Lore feat first.

It may just be confidence or ease of execution, or it may a change in mindset and intent, but eventually you'll grind out enough experience to gain that long-awaited level. Keep an ear sharp for that fanfare and enjoy the golden aura of achievement while it lasts...because you've got another whole level to go, and there's always another boost not yet gained.

So when was your last level-up? Do you notice those moments, announce "Ding!" to the world at large? Or do you just keep on grinding toward the distant goal of maxing out your level and attaining literary godhood? I'll be on and offline throughout the day, so share your thoughts on leveling up and I'll be back when I can to reply.

Bonus! Identify all obscure gaming references and win 1000 Interwebs*!

*(Interwebs not redeemable for real value)


DebH said...

i'm not a gamer, so i won't try to find the obscure gaming references (tho' i believe i caught one or two of them). i do like how you've defined leveling up - very easy for me to think of my artistic skills and gauge my progress.

i chuckled out loud after reading the "Ding!" line. i can actually see myself doing that in the future - especially since i've been known to do Snoopy's happy dance at times after a successful new skill aquisition.

nifty post *ding*

Anita Mae Draper said...

So, that's what all those words were?

I clicked on instrumental fanfare to see what you were talking about and noticed it's the Ocarina music. So that's what that thing is! I saw ads for it in the boy's Nintendo mags and couldn't figure out what the heck it was.

About the 'level up', though, I think thats what happened last week. It was right after BIAW and things just fell into place. My story took off and I was eagerly spending 4-6 hrs at a time on it, even with the TV in the background!

Somehow I was remembering to comment on blog posts important to me, and I even got back into the eHarl groove which had been lacking for months.

On top of that, I've been working more with the church's website and blog.

I have no idea where all the time has come but I'm using it effectively. I just didn't know there was a name for this evolvement until I read this post. Level up - I like that.

Thanks, Hayley.

Jana Richards said...

Hi Hayley,
I'm still waiting for the big fanfare to sound and the Heaven's to open with a bright beam of light at the magnificance of my prose. Guess I'll be waiting a while!

Occassionally things fall into place and all the planets align, but most of the time, sheer hard work gets me through. That said, I know my writing is better than it was. I know it improves with everything I write.

And the gaming references? Sorry, not a clue!


Hayley E. Lavik said...

Hi Deb, I think this sort of progress shows itself best in hindsight, but when those moments happen, they're hard to mistake for anything else. Especially with a Snoopy dance in the mix :)

Hayley E. Lavik said...

"What? Anita is evolving!"

Congratulations on your level-up! Glad you put points in Ignoring Background Noise too! With the amount of things you've been tackling lately, they're definitely not a challenge anymore. You've leveled beyond them.

Hayley E. Lavik said...

Jana, you sound like a grinder to me! Working your way through one bit of experience at a time rather than trying to find a quicker way or an easy boost.

When you max out, then you can pause and reflect on your accumulated awesomeness, and lord it over everyone else :D

Karyn Good said...

I went back to my very first draft of Common Ground yesterday to look for a scene I'd deleted in more recent drafts and thought, "Okay, I've definitely improved." It gave me a boost of confidence so I guess you could say I felt like I'd leveled up. But mostly I just grind away thinking I've still got so much to learn.

Sorry, not a sniff as to the gaming references. Although I did mention to the males in my house that maybe we should get a game I might be interested in playing! Something with less weaponry.

Karyn Good said...

Oh, and a game that doesn't involve a football or a basketball or a baseball or a soccorball or a puck or a golf ball.

JoanneBrothwell said...

Hi Hayley,
Fun post. I like the idea of levelling up, the word choice evokes in my mind an image of a staircase.

I have noticed a big change in my writing over the past year, especially when I revise things I have written, which just seems to be so much quicker and more efficient. Sometimes I wonder if I'm missing something, but I don't think so, I've just levelled up!

It's interesting how when something (like writing) is your passion and you find yourself levelling up because you just want to, not because you have to. It's been a fun climb!

Janet said...

Not a gamer - so the references went right over my head. But, I understood the metaphor. And, yes, I believe I've had those moments when I sigh, glance over my shoulder to make sure no one is watching, and then fist pump/happy dance in my chair while chanting "I'm good, I'm good"!

Then, EE knocks me off that pedestal and reminds me that perhaps I'm not that good. Always nice to have someone to keep you grounded.

Karyn - you need a Wii. I love the thing and I am not a fan of video games, at all!

Helena said...

Just so you all know -- I got out to Alberta yesterday without a hitch. I'm liking this fringe benefit from my son being a pilot and getting insanely good discounts for himself and his mother on flights. I can handle standby!

Hayley, you must be getting tired of one person after another saying sorry about those obscure references. Well, I'm another in the long list. But I enjoyed your post none the less. Believe me, I would enjoy a Ding! moment, and if, as it's been said, that genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration, then maybe I still have a chance, if I work hard at it.

I agree with Jana and Karyn that writing does improve over time. As with most things, practice does make perfect (or almost perfect).

I hope you're enjoying the West Coast.

DebH said...

hey Karyn
I agree with Janet, the Wii is great - but if you want a computer game - I really liked the Myst series. It's more of a puzzle/mystery solving sort of game that I really liked because of the created worlds you walk through. The writer in me wanted to know the back story of those worlds...