New Year is the time for resolutions, and most of them are ill-considered and overly ambitious. I thought, therefore, I’d write some relevant to my personal career development that will have more of an effect than ‘life changing’ plan. They might be useful for you, too.
(13) to be a more frequent networker. No human is an island, and a journalist must be the total opposite. Here are my thoughts on networking if you are an up and coming journalist.
(12) to use social media more creatively. This means communicating visually.
(11) to learn more from other games journalists. This means reading more, networking more–reminding yourself that games journalists are part of a community. On that note, here’s last year’s resolutions from Paul Tassi, a Forbes contributor.
(10) to read more academic writings on gaming. Games journalists should have an in-depth knowledge of the workings of games to be able to provide the most interesting analysis.
(9) to game for fun more frequently. Journalism is time-consuming, and balancing journalism and other commitments is a challenge requiring self-discipline and the ability to schedule one’s own time. Thus, there’s not much time to game purely for fun. However, it’s important to make time for it because a) this is essential for keeping the passion for my work and b) it reminds me of what it’s like to play a game as a consumer.
(8) to specialise. Xbox Live and PSN mean there are more games on consoles than ever before. However, a specialism can definitely improve a writer’s output, whether that’s specialising in a genre, an aspect of game-design, or a particular MMO. A specialism not only means that I can write more in-depth pieces, but that I can show more of my personality and have more fun, too!.
(7) to write more widely. I might have just said that I am going to specialise, but writing more widely helps you learn where you interests lie.
(6) to take more thinking time. This is limited just like gaming time, but it is worth it. One of my tutors at University, freelance journalist Rin Hamburgh, taught me that simply flicking through magazines is a good way to spark ideas. It really is, and if you don’t give yourself some time to let ideas develop, and then to carefully plan them out, you won’t be able to write truly excellent pieces.
(5) to plan the year ahead. No games journalists will forget the big things that will be happening in 2014, such as the release of Metal Gear Solid V. But what to write to mark the occasion? And what about the smaller things, such as anniversaries? It’s worth having some ideas and getting some work started now, which is obviously a necessity for in-depth features.
(4) to realise that as no human is an island, neither is a games platform. It might be asking a lot to invest in every console and to buy a PC capable of running high-spec titles, but knowing what’s going on in the industry as a whole can help a writer predict trends and write pieces that show an awareness of how their specialist area of the industry fits in.
(3) to spend some time doing stuff other than games journalism. No matter how much you love games journalism, humans aren’t machines and burnout is always a possibility if you push yourself too far. Pop Matters’ L.B. Jeffries points out that even playing games for your work can lead to burnout.
(2) to continue to work on basic writing skills. Journalism isn’t about what you know, or how insightful you are, it’s about communication. It was Rin who taught me that getting something across clearly is more important than being a great writer. I plan to make an stronger effort to constantly sharpen my grammar, structural approach to pieces and the precision of your vocabulary, by not just being aware of my own writing but by reading voraciously.
This was originally going to be twelve resolutions but I’ve realised that I have one final resolution.
1) to keep the passion for my work. For me, it comes from purely getting my head down and reminding myself why I’ve decided to be a games journalist.
When the work comes for me and for all of you, I hope you have a successful, productive year for me and that you enjoy the releases that you’ve been waiting for. In the meantime…
Happy New Year!