I’ve been in a horrible writing slump recently and it is was nothing like I have ever experienced before. No matter how long I stared at my computer screen, I just couldn’t type up a single decent sentence. I’ve had plenty of bad days before and it would normally take me half a day before I could get back to my writing. But this time, I couldn’t write anything at all. Maybe I was just burned out. All I could say is that I’m glad it’s over.
As a writer by trade, having days like these are expected. Days when all creative juices have gone dry and there’s no backup supply of ideas to save you – that’s when you know you’ve lost your storytelling game.
I know that all writers, seasoned or new, go through something like this periodically as well. But let’s be honest, it’s not good for business. Especially if you’ve got a deadline signaling your impending doom. So I got up from my chair and did Number 3 on my What You Can Do To Overcome Writer’s Block Today blog post – go down memory lane.
The Storytelling Game We All Know
While I was desperately searching the house for inspiration, I came across an old journal that I had as a kid. I was 9 years old and I wrote an entry about spending Halloween with my cousins at my grandmother’s house.
I remember my grandmother’s home very well. I’ve always thought that it was ancient. During the day, it had an old cottage feel to it; it was the stereotypical grandma’s house. But when evening comes, it transforms into something rather creepy. The creaky wooden floors and the equally creaky bedroom doors are enough to send chills down someone’s spine – especially during the dead of the night when the house is supposed to be still and quiet.
But that’s not to say that I didn’t have good memories there. My cousins and I were too scared to go to bed so we’d usually share ghost stories just for fun. I wrote some of the stories we shared in my journal and I’m pretty sure most of them were just fabricated.
I don’t remember loving ghost stories as a kid as much as I do now. They used to be the cause of many sleepless nights and nightmares. There’s just something about them that can be fun and unpleasant at the same time. But looking back at them now, I think sharing ghost stories is a genius way of practicing storytelling skills.
In order for them to be extra scary and believable, you have to create a certain mood, choose the right words and the right setting. As kids, we probably didn’t think much about it. We just really wanted to scare the pants off of our friends. My cousins and I used to compete over who had the scariest story.
This memory made me wonder if there were other storytelling games out there that could help me get out of my writer’s block. To my surprise, there was plenty of them! Below are just some to name a few…
Using Storytelling Games To Improve Your Writing
It doesn’t have to be Halloween for you to play a storytelling game, nor does it have to be a scary story as well. But it does have to be fun and engaging so that you can get back to your writing groove without even noticing it.
Thanks to a couple of storytelling games, it is now possible to be productive even while on a writing slump. Below is a list of games that I’ve personally tried and I highly recommend to anyone who is experiencing a writer’s block right now. So what are you waiting for? Invite a couple of your friends over and start playing!
5 Storytelling Games To Overcome Writer’s Block
1. Gamewright Rory’s Story Cubes
Story Cubes have a permanent home on my writing desk, and they prove to be especially useful in times when I needed interesting ideas for my book. Each face of the cube has a symbol representing random items. Simply roll the dice and it’s up to you to create a story based on all of the items shown.
This game tests your creativity and resourcefulness in crafting a story. Of course, it isn’t exactly the same as when you’re writing a novel. Story Cubes dictate the elements found in your story when in reality, the author is in charge of everything.
However, using this tool is still helpful if you struggle with continuing your story. I know a lot of writers who tend to rewrite the same things over and over again simply because they weren’t happy with something. Story Cubes will teach you how to stick with something you’ve written and will help you move forward instead of getting stuck on a single scene.
Storium is an innovative online game that allows you to interact with other writers. In each game, you and the other players are given a character, their traits and a set of cards that can manipulate the choices and events of the story. The gameplay is quite simple: you and the other players participate in the game as cast members. You take turns writing parts of the story until it comes to an end.
This game helps you to think quickly as a writer and to also hone your character development skills. It also holds you accountable since you will be playing with other writers as well. If you struggle with finishing what you’ve started, this is the game for you.
If you’re looking for a quick and simple game to play with friends, Nanofictionary could be your best bet. The gameplay is fairly straightforward and easy to understand. The whole game has three rounds in total so it shouldn’t take so much of your time as well.
The first round is a race between players in collecting the four elements of a story – character, setting, problem, and solution. Once the players have collected their elements, the second round is all about sharing the story they have created. And in the last round, players will vote on who had the best story and the person with the highest votes wins the game.
Again, Nanofictionary is another game that tests the writer’s ability to connect the dots in order to formulate a coherent story. If you are having problems tieing in all the elements of your current writing project, this game is for you.
4. Writer’s Toolbox
The Writer’s Toolbox isn’t exactly a game but it is still loads of fun. If for some reason your friends aren’t available to come out and play with you, the Writer’s Toolbox is your go-to solution. If you prefer to spend some alone time as you go through a writer’s block, this is also the game for you.
The Writer’s Toolbox is created by the author, Jamie Cat Callan. It is a writing kit with 64 writing games and exercises that aim to help you find new ideas and regain your creativity back. The best thing about this option is that it is self-paced. You can opt to begin or end the game at any time. This is also a great option for people who do not want to spend too much time on a game.
5. Once Upon A Time
Fantasy writers will definitely find this a treat. Once Upon A Time is a fantasy storytelling card game that is a quite similar to Nanofictionary. Players will receive various story elements which they would need to complete a story. But instead of competing with one another with a finished story, players race each other to the finish.
In this game, one player is the main Storyteller. They manipulate the story until another player uses a card that will steer the story to their favored ending. The first player to use up all their cards win the game. Once Upon A Time is a great practice for writers who struggle with finding their own voice and command of their story.
TIP: Enjoy the Writing Process
When writing becomes a business, stress can take away your joy of writing no matter what kind of written work you do. Take a moment to relax, spend time with family and friends, and allow inspiration to flow naturally. Or, you can always try out any of these storytelling games and turn downtime into a creative way to get back to or improve writing. And in light of the Halloween season, why not gather your friends around at a campfire and share spine-tingling stories?
Now It’s Your Turn
What activities help you out during a writing slump? As for me, I love playing games, traveling and taking photos of anything that catches my eye. Do you practice any special tricks to improve your writing? Let me know down in the comments below, I would love to know how other writers deal with their bad writing days.