Life Lessons: How Board Games Are Like Writing

I was playing Axis and Allies the other night with my brothers and it struck me how much like writing a book that plotting to take over the world is.

Here’s how:


1. You have to wait your turn.

A fairly obvious point when playing a game, but not so obvious in terms of publishing. It’s still true even if it’s not apparent. You have to wait your turn, you have to believe that it will come and practice a little patience. Probably a lot of patience. Probably so much patience you could open a shop called Patience-R-US and still never run out. But don't tell anyone I said that. It'll scare people off. I only tell you this because I know you are aware that good things take time and great things take forever.

2. Sometimes people never listen.

You'll tell them the rules, you'll explain the gameplay and the plan of attack, but they just won't get it. And that's ok. It's ok if some of your friends, family, pets, houseplants, furniture think you're a little strange for loving to write. What does it matter? You're laying your own path. You’re making your own way, and that has its own rewards.

3. It's kind of important to make your own fun.

If you're not having any fun everyone’s going to notice. It will be clear in the way you adjust your hat, or move your piece, or edit your writing like it's a criminal. It will shine through in the words. And if you can't make your own fun things are going to get super difficult when you hit the low points.

4. Calling it a day is ok.

I'm more of a never surrender and take no prisoners unless they're offering cake person? But it's honestly alright to decide to stop a novel and start a different one. It's your writing. Only you can know when it's working, it's in your head.

5. Singing will distract other people, but mainly it will distract you.

Imagine for a moment instead of singing while playing a board game, you are dancing around in procrastination valley or planning what to spend your, as yet, non-existent advance on. This will distract everyone, but most of all you.  It's great to be a dreamer, fantastic and fabsies to the max, but sometimes you also have to knuckle down and do a little leg work before you dream big. You know?

6. You have to be brave.

Right now, at the start of your turn, you might hold all the counters and an awful lot of good things but if you're not brave enough to do something with that it means almost nothing. You have to be strong enough to risk it all, whether that be in writing the truest thing you can or just sending that query away. You have to be brave. You know you can.

7. People cheat, especially brothers named after historically famous emperors.

Okay, look, I’m not bitter but it's really difficult to play board games with a chronic cheater. That is all I am saying.

What lessons have you gained from board games? Any? A lot?