Sometimes, your best-laid plans don’t pan out. You told yourself that you were going to work on the upcoming gaming session, you promised yourself that you would not run the whole thing off the cuff this time, and so now you sit, pen in hand to write the story arc for this Friday night and you come up with exactly… nothing. The well seems dry and you want everyone to have a good time; gamers are counting on you.
So, what do you do? Here are some suggestions.
1. Read a book/Watch a movie
Nothing is new. Every idea that is being used has been done before, so do not be afraid of lifting an idea. Heck, that’s how a lot of great writers earn their paychecks. Gabe from Penny Arcade has some thoughts on the matter. Don’t even limit yourself to books or movies. Anything in media that you see is fair game. Lift it, repurpose it, make it yours.
2. Read back over your campaign notes
Take a look at what you’ve done already and pick through your memories of those events. If you’re lucky enough to have an audio record of the session, then listen back to it. Was there an NPC that they players seemed to connect with? Was there a plotline you left dangling that you’ve forgotten about? Check through things and see what you might have missed.
3. Get out of the fsking house!
Get out, go leave, depart, do something other than sit and stew. Some of the best ideas I have ever had have come to me when I have been out walking to dog. No headphones, no music, just the steady rhythm of my feet on the ground and my thoughts bouncing around my head.
4. Talk to someone unlikely
We gamers all have people with whom we associate who are decidedly not gamers. Be they significant others, parents, co-workers, we often spend more time around them than we do our own gaming friends. Take a chance and bring up the subject with one of your non-gaming associates. Sometimes we get so deep into a hobby that we forget simple ideas. I cannot tell you how many times I have brought up my dead-end plots to my loved ones. More often than not, they are the ones who give me a brilliant gem of an idea so simple that I overlooked it.
5. Just start to write
This is a classic tip for overcoming writer’s block, and it is just as applicable here. Sometime all you need to do is get your pen moving, and ideas start to form. It doesn’t matter if the writing is on-topic, or just ends up being a rant about how you are stuck for ideas. Get the pen moving and see what happens.
Next time you’re stuck, take a step back and try something from the list above. You never know where your next great idea may come from, so give something new a try. It probably won’t hurt, and it will almost definitely help.
Photo by Wil Wheaton
[tags]rpg, ideas, gaming[/tags]