Day9, Starcraft, and Writing

There’s an interesting coupling between the real-time strategy game Starcraft 2 and writing, for me.  Before I can get too deep into that, I need to make mention of a fellow called Day[9].

Day[9]’s real name is Sean Plott.  A coworker of mine when I was at my previous job introduced me to Day[9]’s Daily, which is a show where Sean talks about Starcraft.  Day[9] has been a professional gamer and commentator for over a decade, and the vast bulk of his experience and fortune all stems from Starcraft.

I didn’t immediately take to watching Day[9]’s shows regularly for a long while.  My introduction to Day[9] came before my trip to Reno’s WorldCon, so I wasn’t really in the proper place to add his particular brand of wisdom to my life.  Eventually, when I was in a better job and a happier place, I started going through his archives, mostly focused on his extremely humorous Funday Mondays.

The thing about Day[9]’s shows, though, is that they’re infectious.  Actually, it’s not his shows that are infectious… it’s the man himself.  He is highly energetic, highly enthusiastic, and extremely passionate about what he’s doing.  These are qualities that we can all appreciate, and that we should all try to apply in our lives.

His shows are about Starcraft, and though my initial interest in the game had waned, I found myself wanting to play the game again.  I started playing with a renewed interest and perspective on the game.  I wanted to participate in the competitive, laddering portion of the game.  I also wanted to stream my experiences, and participate in the Starcraft 2 community.

One particular show Day[9] did is extremely popular, and exceptionally inspirational.  It’s nearly 2 hours long, and in it, Sean talks about his life growing up and becoming a successful professional gamer.  Whether you know anything about Starcraft or not, there is something for everyone in that particular show.

Looking at Sean Plott’s journey inspired me.  This is a man that had the courage to pursue his dreams, and the dedication to making sure that the pursuit was successful.  This is a man that embraced the concept and now teaches that every loss is an opportunity to learn and improve.  This is a man that remained energetic and enthusiastic after finding his success, and continues to be a positive role model for all ages.

I have no aspirations to becoming a professional gamer myself, or even a commentator.  I enjoy the game, but my goal has always been to become a published author.  We can all take lessons from Sean’s life in regards to pursuing our dreams.  Those of us that play on the Starcraft ladder can take a few lessons from the game itself.

Overcome Ladder Anxiety
A lot of people experience fear before hitting the Find Match button.  Will I make some terrible mistakes?  Will my opponent be rude?  What will I do if I lose?  These are questions that can ultimately chase people away from playing the game altogether.  It’s natural to feel the apprehension.  It’s also important to overcome it, and just jump into the game.

With my writing, I definitely feel my own version of Ladder Anxiety.  I wonder if what I write will be any good or not.  I wonder whether or not anyone will be interested in what I write.  Once I finish my story, I wonder whether or not I’ll be able to get it published or not.  I’ve already posted about my struggles just getting the first draft out.  Something I can take from Starcraft is that I just need to get in the game, do the work, and see how it comes out.  Ultimately, it should be fun.  If it isn’t, then maybe it’s not the game (or dream) that I should be pursuing after all.

Haters are Gonna Hate
In any game of Starcraft, you can run into any number of truly toxic individuals.  Even out of the game, watching streams, you can run into people that will berate you, or give you bad advice, or mistreat you in some way with words.  Welcome to the internet, folks.

The lesson to be learned is to not take everything that is said to heart.  Some people may try to help you, and you should be courteous to those people, and try to use what treasures they give you.  Other people may try to tear you down or drag you down to their level.  You should be courteous to those people as well, find the lessons that can be learned (that may have nothing to do with what they’re actually saying), and be assertive in protecting yourself and your work.

There will always be people that take issue with you, for whatever reason.  Even people like Day[9] draw detractors.  Let them froth, and don’t take it personally.

Learn From your Losses
You’re not going to win every game you enter.  In Starcraft, in fact, the system is set up so that you’re really supposed to only win about half of your games.  If you get hung up on the losses themselves, and let the negative emotions that come from those losses overwhelm you, you’re not going to have the mental faculties to win the next game.

As in Starcraft, everything I do with my writing won’t meet absolute success.  Not all of the seeds I plant will be within fertile ground.  I’m going to get rejection letters.  All of the best authors have stacks of rejection letters in their history.  It is important for me not to let the prospect of those letters get me down.  It is also important that I learn from each unsuccessful experience, so that I might elevate my chances with the next endeavor.

It’s a Mental Game
Starcraft is all about multitasking, allocating resources appropriately, and reading your opponent so that you know what’s coming and where you’re going.  While the pros may have hundreds of actions per minute, the dexterity of their fingers isn’t the greatest part of their game.  Their greatest strength is their mental fortitude, to be able to withstand the pressure of sitting up on stage, with thousands of fans watching and significant money and reputation on the line.

Writing is also a mental game.  While there may be something to be said for emotions coloring the artistic palette, I think the stronger argument is for having the mental stamina to see that the work is done.  It’s important to feel the emotions without letting them distract you from doing what needs doing.  It’s especially important not to let fear be a crippling force, once the story is done, and it’s time to go on to the next level.