Most writers play games. They might use other words for it — challenges, mental tricks, techniques — but the purpose is always the same. The point is to find ways to put the butt in the chair and get the words flowing; to trick the mind so that the critical voice, the one that tells you that you’re no good, that you can’t possibly write even a decent sentence much less a whole story or novel, gets out of the way.
I’m a game player myself. Like a lot of writers, I’ve got more than a few personal demons that would like nothing better than for my keyboard to fall silent. Over the years, I’ve collected a number of these games, some from other writers, some from books, and many simply from my own experience, and I finally decided that other writers might benefit from them too.
So here’s the deal. Every Tuesday, I plan to post a new game — some Jedi mind trick that’s meant to help writers produce more words. Why write more? Well, I’m assuming you’re a serious writer, somebody who’s either already writing for publication or hoping to get there someday. And if you are, then I’m also assuming you accept the principle that the rate of your success is directly dependent on the level of your productivity.
Sure, you have to try to get better. Sure, you need to watch your said bookisms, your use of adverbs, your tendency to tell rather than show. That’s a given. But that’s not the focus of these posts, although you might get a little bit of that along the way too. No, the focus of these posts is to give you games you can play to unlock your creativity, destroy writer’s block, and get yourself to produce more words.
More words = more success.
If you don’t believe that, you’ve come to the wrong place.
There’s no particular order to these games. Some will be general principles, others will be specific challenges or techniques. Not all of them will work for any particular writer. Like me, you might have to try a few on for size before you find some that work for you. Remember, the whole point is to get you to write more. If it’s not working, try something else.
How long will I keep it going? As long as I can. I’m obviously working on lots of other projects and this is just something I want to squeeze in now and then — something that helps me, too, because I’m always looking for ways to boost my own productivity. When the project’s done, I’ll most likely put out a print on demand edition, so those of you who want a hard copy will be able to buy it. I’m hoping it’ll end up as a nice resource when you find your well running a little dry; just open the book (or go back to the Internet) and look for a game to help you get going again.
You’ll also notice something at the bottom of the posts that I haven’t done on this site before: a donate button. If you find these posts useful, if one of them really clicks and helps gets the words flowing, I’d really appreciate it if you “tipped your waiter” a few bucks. One of the things I decided at the start of this year was to be more active with my own website, but it’s hard to justify the time unless there’s some monetary compensation involved. I do write for money, after all. Even a few dollars really does help.
If you can’t donate — and hey, I understand, we’re in a recession here — then please help spread the word. Write a blog post pointing people here. Retweet my Twitter posts. That helps too.
And if you have a game you’d like to share, drop me an email by using the Contact Page. Type “Games Writers Play” in the subject line, and make sure you give me your website. I can’t promise you I’ll use your particular game — and I won’t copy it verbatim, because that would obviously be copyright violation — but if I do, I’ll make sure to give you a “hat tip,” which will mention your name and a link to your website.
With that, let the games begin.