So this blog post begins a tradition that I hope I will be able to carry on into future posts. The format will be to interview someone in a field that involves an interesting aspect of the writing craft, consult their expertise, and then discuss how to apply it to your writing. Because this is a writing blog. So with no further ado, my interview with Colton Kresser.
UPDATE: If this is the first time you are reading this interview (because I just revamped it for blog2.0 and posted it on twitter), you should know that Colton and I had this interview before we knew that we would start going into a semi-permanent working relationship. You can say that this blog post was the reason I got so hyped to work with Colton in the first place: his drive, his ability to inspire others, and his professionalism. It’s been an awesome working relationship, as well as just a plain fun friendship, and it’s nice to see this old post be cleaned up and think about how things have progressed since then. -Mike 4/15
I was born to play video games and eat Oreo’s! RPG’s, FPS & good vibes.
Colton is a triple threat when it comes to online presence. He is a Youtube personality, a Twitch TV streamer, and also a writer for Emma: The Online Comic, “Little Girl versus the Walking Dead”.
In my conversations with Colton, and watching his streams, I discovered I agreed with his tastes of what makes a quality plot structure in a game and also what makes a good story and what makes a bad one. Along with being a great friend and a way better “The Last of Us” teammate, he was one of the first people I thought of when thinking of interviews for this blog.
One thing that I’ve noticed is that when you’re in the creative field and something doesn’t go wrong you aren’t pushing yourself hard enough.
Colton Kresser: With Emma, I was friends with the creators little brother and I would go over to his house to hang out, but “hanging out” would consist of me watching him play a single player game, so I would wander into his brothers (Kienan’s) room to see what he was doing and he would be working on the comic so I would help him here and there with it. Then eventually Kienan started to text me to come over and help! And that’s how that started. As for YouTube and TwitchTV, last spring I entered in the IGN Dream Job competition and I started my Youtube channel so I could submit my work to them. I had always wanted to start a channel but never had any motivation to do so, but when I started it I made a promise to myself that if I started a YouTube channel I would never stop.
MB: Talking about that, your twitch stream, quality and technically, is one of the best I’ve seen. Do you want to share some of your secrets with us, or maybe some of the technical difficulties you had to overcome?
CK: Thank you! I don’t think there is any real “secret” I think I just have an upper hand in quality because I’ve been studying film for about six years now. So quality was always something that I absolutely had to have when creating videos. But with that quality it goes hand in hand with technical difficulties. Weather it’s forgetting to un-mute my microphone while recording, or spending hundreds of dollars on equipment and when it gets to me it doesn’t even work. One thing that I’ve noticed is that when you’re in the creative field and something doesn’t go wrong you aren’t pushing yourself hard enough. If it was easy everyone would do it.
MB: So you are the unofficial/official writer for Emma the Online comic. Tell me how that works, and also the interplay between writer and artist
CK: That basically sums up my job for Emma! Haha! I’m not the “official” writer simply because Kienan never said to me “Hey, you’re the writer!” But I do, do a lot of the story writing that goes into the comic. We usually have some kind of a sit down or meeting where we can discuss the future of the Emma story and any ideas that we have. The interplay between the both of us is really cohesive, Being able to have and Idea and have it go into the comic exactly how we pictured it is really great.
MB: For readers who want to start doing twitch/youtube/video game reviews, what do you suggest as a starting point?
CK: Start now! Don’t wait like I did. I thought everything had to be perfect or I couldn’t do it. But I slowly learned that viewers usually aren’t interested in the content, more often they are actually interested in you as a person. So start with the basics, Start a blog and blog everyday, upload videos on a consistent schedule, don’t worry if you aren’t happy with the quality, be genuine with whatever it is you’re doing and the quality will follow. Again, don’t wait. Don’t think to yourself “Okay, I’ll do this for sure, for sure tomorrow!” or “next week” or “when I’m ready” because you’ll never end up doing it. Start now.
CK: I’ve got a couple projects lined up for me at the moment, but I actually can’t talk about them just yet. As for Emma, me and Kienan are both really excited because it’s at a turning point in the story where everything starts to get really intense. We’ve been looking forward to this probably since October of 2012! As far as YouTube and TwitchTV I’m trying to find a schedule that works for me where I can produce the most content but also have time for my other projects. Other than that I’m going to be kicking it into high gear and really try to continue growing my audience.
The Writing Process
Again, don’t wait. Don’t think to yourself “Okay, I’ll do this for sure, for sure tomorrow!” or “nextweek” or “when I’m ready” because you’ll never end up doing it. Start now.
What can an aspiring writer take away from Colton’s experience and story?
First, the idea of collaborating, or having other’s who support your artistic vision. Having other’s around you helps you keep motivated, gives you fresh ideas, and holds you accountable to someone else. Writing groups are particularly effective. Now, that is not to say that there is no merit to personal writing, to keep for private purposes. However, if you do intend to write with the intent of publishing, you will want to have other people look at it.
Not necessarily a completely public forum, like youtube (or the writer’s equivalent, a public blog of some sort), but it is not realistic to believe you will create in this dark writer’s hole, and it will emerge like a magical phoenix, ready to be published. You will need people at every process, critiquing, offering advise, maybe even just validating your work. While the lonely writer seems like a romantic ideal, man vs. nature, it is a lonely ideal. Friends don’t let friends write alone! Also, friends tell friends if their writing sounds pretentious, and tells them to stop doing it.
Second, starting now vs starting later. And staring with the basics. The quote “the difference between an aspiring writer and a writer is that a writer writes” is very applicable here. In dune, we say “fear is the mind killer”, for a writer “not writing is the writing killer”. Well, okay, not even half as eloquent Frank Herbert (sorry bro). But fear really is the mind killer here, fear of not being good enough, fear that other’s will dislike it, fear that it might sound like crap the first time.
Let me assuage your fears: Yes you are probably not good enough to write the story you envision right now, yes someone in this wild wild world (or at least in the Amazon reviews) will dislike it, and most definitely, it is going to be a stinking huge pile of brahmin doo the very first time. But you know what?
- The only way to eventually write the story you want, is to get better, and the only way to get better is to write.
- You can’t please everyone, and you know what, you shouldn’t; you should please the people who like your writing, and the only way to do that is to write.
- And first drafts will always suck. The only way to make is better is to rewrite.
Third, excuses like “I will start writing when I get more skill”, “when I finally finish planning my perfect story”, “when I get the perfect set up or tools”, or “when I get the idea for the next American novel” are the true mind killers. The best time to start writing is now. This very second. No seriously, grab a pencil and paper right now and start outlining a story. Sheesh. There are writing prompts everywhere, grab one and go with it. Also, if you are an aspiring streamer, start right now as well! Head over to youtube.com, create a channel. Go to twitch.tv and create your stream. Do it. Do it now.
I want to thank Colton for taking the time to answer my interview questions, and being so eloquent in doing so. He’s an inspiration to me, and a great friend. Good luck!
Interested in Colton’s work? Find/Follow him here!:
Emma: the Comic Online – Little Girl versus the Undead can be found here