the grind

Gamers understand grinding as much as anyone (and no, I’m not talking about dirty Jr. High dance moves here). In a game, grinding means performing a repetitive, monotonous action over a long period of time in order to acquire something of perceived value.

Grinding has been in games for a while now and it seems to have only increased over the years. Many online RPGs are built off this concept: maybe you have to fight a bunch of low-ranked enemies just to level up and then fight a bunch of slightly harder enemies. Perhaps you've got to slowly, painstakingly collect gold or other materials so you can eventually obtain some special item which helps you be better at collecting gold and such. Or, as with many mobile games, you simply log in every half hour so you can repeatedly tap a button, which will unlock new buttons for you to tap repeatedly. That sort of thing.

But you know what? Grinding is not fun. Ever.

So why do we do it? Games, after all, are supposed to be for our enjoyment, right? From a game designer standpoint, it’s a cheap way to keep people playing your game longer. From the player’s standpoint, they believe whatever reward they get is worth the effort. But, from my perspective, it hardly is. Most of the time all you’re doing is grinding in order to do more grinding.

Sometimes life can feel this way. After all, we call work the daily grind (especially if you’re in a coffee shop). For some folks, they get up, go to work, and come home, with little change in their daily routine. Often the work itself is quite repetitive. I’m not dogging on a consistent and reliable job, but when the majority of your life is spent in repetitive monotony, it may be time to rethink where you’re heading.

Creativity, on the other hand, is all about embracing change; it’s like diving headlong into a big rushing river and not knowing where you’ll be swept away. It’s scary, challenging and fun—nothing like the grind. 

But even creatives can fall into a grind. And you know what, sometimes it’s ok, for a time. Even if you enjoy the outcome, some parts of being creative just aren’t very fun. Sometimes you have to stick that nose to the grindstone (sure sounds painful) and get a hard job done. Just make sure you have an exit plan, a reason for the grind that makes the trouble worth the effort. 

Once the grind is over, it should allow you to do something fun and exciting once more. Even better, find a way to avoid the grind altogether: develop a process so the further along you are on your creative journey, the less grinding is necessary. If your life seems like nothing but a grind, throw in an element of the unexpected, do something new and different, even if it's small and simple. 

Whatever you do, avoid an endless grind-cycle at all costs. Because if all you do is grind, eventually you’ll be ground away to nothing. That would be a stone-cold shame.


Creatively yours,

A. P. Lambert


Hey Creatives, has creativity ever felt like a grind to you, what have you done to change it up? Let us know in the comments below.


[original photo by  lalesh aldarwish ]

[original photo by lalesh aldarwish]

If you’ve read the little tagline under the main page banner, it lists story, art, game and life as categories of discussion. Well, we’re gonna talk about games today. Gamers specifically.

I think gamers often get a bad rap (and I don’t mean Vanilla Ice) as the term “gamer” has a lot of negative connotations to it. Then again, gaming has become so pervasive in our culture, it’s hard to find anyone who isn’t involved in some sort of gaming activity on a regular basis. Be it mobile games, console games, board games, sports or WarGames (hey, it’s still a great movie), just about everyone has some attachment to gaming.

But gamers are different, they are the dedicated, the ones who have made gaming a lifelong pursuit. Typically, this label is reserved for people who play video games, but the“video games” category itself sure has changed since the Atari.
Now, I’ve got a lot of mixed feelings about video games. I mean, I absolutely love them but also feel like they can be a total waste of my time if I’m not careful. Let’s shelve that convo for another day.

Back to gamers. They’re dedicated to games in a way most people aren’t. Are there dangers to such a lifestyle? Sure, as with any hobby or activity which can become an obsession, but I also see the potential for good in gamers. Consider the following quote by Justin Gary, maker of the card games Ascension and Solforge.

“I’ve been a gamer my whole life and I know what it means to commit to a collectible game.  The reason I played Magic for so many years wasn't just because it was a good game or because I got to travel around the world playing on the Pro Tour.  The main reason I stuck with the game is because of the friendships I made and the experiences that we got to share together playing a game we love. I make games with the hope of providing that experience for others. Solforge only survives because of the strength of the gameplay and the bonds created amongst our community.”

To be fair, my interests in both of his games have decreased dramatically lately (though I used to really enjoy them). However, his quote is one reason I love board games so much: the sense of community they bring. If gamers let the games they play lead to real and healthy relationships, I think that’s a pretty good thing. So let the games continue, but hey, try to take a break now and then to work on your own creative product instead of just enjoying someone else’s. And maybe get a little more sleep while you’re at it.


Hey Creatives, what have been your experiences with gaming? What advantages or dangers do you see in that field of entertainment? Let us know in the comments below.