Surviving “The Grind”

by Andy Peloquin

I’m not a hardcore gamer, but I tend to get lost in the occasional Xbox, PC, or mobile game. My current addiction (as a superhero fan) is a game called “Injustice: Gods Among Us”. Basically, it’s superheroes fighting each other in the style of Tekken, Street Fighter, or Mortal Combat.

With any of this type of game, there is often a good deal of “grinding“—repetition of tedious, often simple tasks for the purpose of “leveling up” or gaining experience/growing more powerful in the game. It may not be the most enjoyable part of the game, but it’s necessary in order to advance in the other aspects. A bit of repetition and tedium contributes to the overall enjoyment of the experience.

That ability to grind has served me well in my creation of stories.

Ask any writer how much “fun” writing is, and the answer will be quite mixed. You’ll get some authors who say that writing is all fun and games because you’re creating something new. Others will tell you that it’s an exhausting, intense, detail-demanding task. Most authors will tell you it’s a combination of the two.

When it comes to writing a book, you don’t just sit down and spill perfectly arranged, magically awesome words onto a page and publish it. You start out by preparing the ground (outlining, a task most “plotters” need before they start writing the book), then you sit down and begin the writing process. But a 120,000-word novel isn’t born overnight. It’s usually created in spurts of 500, 1000, or 2000 words at a sitting.

First-time authors and new writers don’t understand how monotonous and tedious the writing process can be. It’s a daily “grind” to stay in your seat, push past the difficult or slow sections in the novel, or try to figure out some important element that we just can’t seem to get right. And that’s just in the creation process—wait until you get to the fifth draft of the novel, the beta reader feedback, and the final proofreading and editing. By the time I send the book off to be published, I’ve “grinded” for months at it.

But it’s that dedication to repeating the same task over and over that makes any work of art great. Anyone can put a story onto a piece of paper; to make it an amazing story, it takes working and reworking, grinding away until you find the real story you want to tell beneath all the layers of plot, subplot, twists, and reveals.

To be a writer takes a lot of stick-to-it-iveness and the ability to repeat those same tedious tasks day in and out. 500 to 1000 words a day becomes 15,000 to 30,000 words in a month, or 365,000 words in a year. That’s three full-length novels in a year—a pretty good turnout for most authors!

By repeating the same tasks day in and out for years and years, you become a master of your craft. Whether you’re a blacksmith, a car salesman, an accountant, or an author, the ability to “grind” is what makes you great!

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