Thursday, January 12, 2012

Writer's Block

Writer's Block is the name for the phenomenon that - traditionally writers - is used when no matter how hard one tries, they're unable to find inspiration for how to continue a story. It can be applied to almost any endeavor one can undertake, but seems to hold a special place for creative fields. Many aspiring writers use it to justify not working on a project for some time, but I've also seen GMs use it to explain why they didn't have prep done. Personally, I don't believe in it - more on that later - but I want to talk about it today.

Not Really Real
The reason why I don't believe in Writer's Block is because it takes power away from me and gives it to something else. It is the same as saying you need to be inspired to do something creative. You don't need inspiration; inspiration just makes it easier. Still, the phenomenon can happen, it just is something that you have to learn to work through. As it is currently something I'm dealing with as a GM, I wanted to talk about ways to deal with it.

Review What Has Been Done
One of the awesome things with RPGs is that there is often a lot of groundwork for what should come next in what has already happened. So if you're feeling that you don't know where to go next, it is always a good idea to look back at what you've already done. Ideas can pop forth, unfinished plot lines will reveal themselves, and sometimes a few cool NPCs will say they want some more screen time. This doesn't necessarily fix the problem, but it gives you ground work to go off on.

Re-Evaluate Priorities
Odds are there was something about the campaign you really liked at one point. Find that something, focus on it, and see how you can bring it to center stage. If you can find that core of excitement for you, it will often banish any blocks to the far recesses of time and space for you. Also, focusing on something your excited about can make game prep a lot more smooth and fun.

Understand It May Be Rough
Whatever you plan when you're forcing yourself to do it is probably going to come out rough. You're literally forcing this stuff into existence despite yourself, so don't be surprised if it has a few bumps, bruises, or tears on it. You can clean that off later, or use it in game to add some character to things. Still, just because it is hard going doesn't mean it isn't going. Forward progress is key.

In doubt? Ask your players
If you're still in doubt, ask your players what they want to do next session. Odds are someone will have some idea to do something. Maybe the thief wants to rob a bank. Maybe the Paladin wants to go speak to the arch bishop. Maybe the sheriff wants to start a revolution and raze half the kingdom. either way, these are ideas you can run with. even better, they already have your players' interest as they were the players' ideas.

Change It Up
Don't be afraid to change it up either. If your game is usually action packed, maybe a slower and more social session will be better for everyone involved. If you usually have cunning intrigue and shadowed plots, maybe a good old fashioned fire fight can help smooth out the kinks in your brain. Stories are never just one kind of focus, so why not add some extra spice to your game?

Your tricks?
Do you have any special tricks to use for when you're head is stalling on what to do next? I'd love to hear them. Sound off in the comments

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