GM Advice: Dealing With Writer's Block



It happens to everyone. You are sitting there, plotting your next session when suddenly that wellspring of creativity that flows from your imagination runs dry You freeze, realizing that, try as you might, you got nothing. Ideas aren't flowing like they usually do, and you find yourself scrolling through facebook far more often than you should.

 "Wait, what?"

I know your pain.

This has happened to me more times than I can count. It is easy to get discouraged, but fear not. Having been Writer's Blocks personal bitch on numerous occasions has given me a unique arsenal of methods to deal with this irritating situation.

Write Something Else: The tried and true method for outsmarting the old block in the noggin. If ever you find yourself trapped while writing a story or session, take a step back and focus on something else. Delve into an NPC's backstory, stat out a city, or write up a cutscene with dialogue and the works. When you've finished, go back and see if the ideas flow more freely. If you still have trouble, write something else. Repeat until you get the results you are looking for. The best part of this method is, if done right, you can have months of material squared away in advance. Not a bad trade off if you ask me.
Fun Fact: The entire reason for this article's existence is because of my own writer's block. This is my “something else”.

Read: Sometimes the ideas run low. The best way of recharging the old creative batteries is to get a little inspiration from the the masters, and by masters I mean novelists. If you are running a particular type of game, like a good o'le fashioned old school fantasy game, read a book that that ties in with the theme, like the Lord of The Rings, or Conan. Need inspiration for a magic weapon? Pick up any Elric of Elric of Melniboné book. The words on the page could spark something, and get your brain juices flowing in the right direction,

"My sword tells me to heed the bard's words, and ite has never led me astray before... right?"

Phone A Friend: My personal method of overcoming “the block” hurdle. When in doubt, call up or call upon a fellow Game Master. Bounce ideas back and forth. They could set you on the path you were hoping to get back on, or they could put you on a new (and possibly more sadistic) one.

Wing It: Sometimes the best method is to prep nothing at all. Let the night roll on with the most basic semblance of a story. Add encounters and NPCs as they come to you. These sessions are best done as heavy roleplaying (not roll-playing) sessions. There exists an excellent opportunity that something that you cook up on the fly could inspire you to bust through that block like the kool-aid man.

"Oh... yeah."

Let Your Players Do The Work: A variation of the “Wing It” method, only in this instance you place the fate of the session entirely in your players' hands. If they are meeting a contact, ask a random player how they know them, what their name is, and what they do. The random chaos generators that are your players can cook up some incredible things if you let them. Tap into them occasionally. They can give you a few ideas, or even alter the course of you planned campaign for something better.

Writer's Block can be a royal pain in the arse, but if you are persistent, and power though, you can overcome it... eventually.

Keep plugging away, my friends
+Ed The Bard 

Looking for some extra aids to make your game really pop? Check out the Open Gaming Store. Tell them The Bard sent you.

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