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A Love Note to All GameSkinny's Aspiring Writers

If you can successfully blend passion, patience and realism, you're in good shape.

A few up-and-comers are starting to realize what they have here at GameSkinny. I'm here to tell you that in fact, it's even more of a godsend than you know.

Video games are legit; they're big business and they're full-on mainstream. It stands to reason that video game journalism will continue to rise alongside the industry and it's going to be a very active field in the years to come. This is a doubled-edged sword because on the one hand, it means more publications will pop up, thereby giving you a chance to get on board. On the downside, it means competition is going to be even more brutal than it is now.

Frightened? Don't be. You're smart enough to prepare.

A bunch of kids writing blogs in the basement? Not anymore

When I started looking into the prospect of writing about video games, it really was just a bunch of teens living at home writing about their favorite hobby. There were very few actual professionals, as even the top publications of the time didn't exactly feature Pulitzer Prize winners. The industry was in a transition stage; it was growing up. As it grew, so did its fans, which meant that millions were reaching that "first job" age.

Nowadays, this is a true profession. Established publications want journalism, English, or communications degrees. They want experience. They want you to understand the basic tenets of the trade, and they want you to be professional. When I was young, just loving games and being semi-literate was all you needed. But now, you actually need talent and qualifications. Yep, just like any other professional field.

And that's precisely why GameSkinny is so important

I didn't have a GameSkinny back then. None of us did. I'm actually a little bitter that such a fantastic learning tool showed up 15 years after I broke into the industry. Do you realize that what you get here for free is so invaluable that it's difficult to explain?

The Journalist Training Program is exactly what gaming needs right now. And it's your best opportunity to learn and grow. The editors here will quickly and accurately critique your work; they will offer appropriate suggestions and give you a chance to discover your own strengths as a writer. You will learn about the importance of SEO (Search Engine Optimization),  you'll pen more eye-catching headlines, and you'll continue to fine-tune your approach and style.

You're going to see a lot of testimonials as time rolls on. Coatedpolecat's story is only the beginning. If you take advantage of what is offered, and you're patient and diligent, you will earn the critical tools required to take the next step.

Balancing passion and reality is tough, but you can do it!

"Do what you love," they say. Of course, if you can't pay the bills, doing what you love suddenly doesn't seem so attractive. When it's not even realistic, you have to bite the bullet and try something else. No matter what you do, no matter what you accomplish, always remember that writing in any field is exceedingly challenging, and you'll have to roll with the punches.

Take me, for instance. My career dates all the way back to 1999 and the original GamerWeb. Since, I've written for four online publications (Kikizo, AskMen, PSX Extreme), three print publications (newspapers), and a copywriting ad agency. Titles have included everything from Staff Writer to Features Editor to Community Manager to Editor-in-Chief and everything in between. I was in the running for GameSpot's Sr. News Editor role last year - even flew to San Francisco on their dime to do the interview - and I'm writing and honing four different books.

And yet...I might be weeks away from dropping it all and going off to sell cars or insurance or something. That's just how unforgiving all of this can be.

The key is to remember that what you love doesn't have to be your only form of income. Your passion might be put on hold, but it'll never die. Writing here at GameSkinny and participating in the JTP is fantastic, but even just writing the occasional story and contributing to the community will help. It will help in a variety of ways; one critical way is that it will keep you writing.

Writers are like sharks...stop swimming and they die

Well, the will to write may die, at any rate. GameSkinny gives you the opportunity to keep that flame alive, regardless of what your day job may be. I made the mistake of getting away from serious writing for a little while, and that only resulted in a bunch of bad habits (some of which I have yet to break). What you want to do is embrace the opportunity afforded you here at GameSkinny, because it's the perfect way to balance your love with your everyday responsibilities.

And who knows? Get good enough and you might look back at GS in five years with a wistful smile: "That's where I got my start," you'll say. "I'm here now because of them."

Published Feb. 26th 2014
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