I’ve tried different approaches to game prep over the years, but lately I tend to do it all in one big rush. The rush is preceded by brainstorming and outlining, but most of my prep happens all at once.
One thing I’ve found about this method is that it’s almost inevitable that I’m to going to get GM’s block during prep. I reach a point where I just don’t know what should happen next — I’m stuck. I start by doing a little freeform brainstorming to see if I can get past the block, but a lot of times this doesn’t work.
What always works is hopping in the shower.
When I need to get my ideas flowing again, I count on shower insight to get me through. This shakes out in one of two ways, but in both cases, I spend my shower thinking out loud about the game.
- Poof, my GM’s block is gone! The block clears. I get an idea or two that fits perfectly, and as soon as I’m out of the shower I write them down and get working again. I’m consistently surprised how often this works — it’s not like it’s a highly scientific method arrived at after years of intensive study. I’d say this works about 75% of the time.
- The gears slowly start turning again. I don’t have an a-ha! moment, but I get a couple of ancillary ideas that are useful — and loosen my mental block. When I sit back down in front of the computer, a little brainstorming or staring into space gets me back on track, and I get past the block then. This happens the other 25% of the time.
So far, shower insight hasn’t let me down. I’m sure it will someday, but I hope that day is far off!
Taking a break to get past writer’s block isn’t a new idea, but what surprises me about shower insight is its 100% success rate. I’ve tried different things to clear writer’s or GM’s block in the past, and while they work more often than not, this works the best for me.
You might find that for you it’s best to go for a quick jog, play a couple rounds of Halo, spend some quality time on the porcelain throne or watch an episode of your favorite TV show — any activity that gets you away from the computer and lets your mind roam.
But give shower insight a try — you never know, it might work just as well for you…
What techniques do you use to get through GM’s block?