K. J. Bagnall

Writer. Editor. Illustrator. Mental Health Activist. Christian.

How D&D Helps My Writer’s Block

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I’ve struggled to write the last, well, year if I’m honest. But I’ve recently stumbled across an interesting way of getting myself back in the swing of things: the role-playing game D&D. My first ever game is in a few weeks, and the preparation has sparked something within me.

Stress has been a huge factor in my struggle to write. It saps my energy, my motivation and gives me constant headaches.

This blog is the only personal writing project I’ve kept on schedule for. I suppose there’s something to the illusion of accountability, even though I don’t even have a big readership and I doubt many notice my first-week-of-each-month posting schedule.

What Is D&D You Ask?

D&D or Dungeons & Dragons is a fantasy role playing dice game. Basically, players create a character each and another person, called the Dungeon Master or DM, creates a world and quest for the characters to embark on. The outcome is determined by character stats, the roll of the dice and the creativity of the players.

Typically the game is played verbally, with actions and objects described. Some DMs draw maps and objects, and even have theme music for certain locations or plot points. Players also have the option of drawing their character.

D&D And Writing

Different DMs have different ways they like the players to prepare. I’m rather fortunate; my DM is encouraging us all to create in-depth character backstories and clear personalities.

Cue my writing skills. Character creation is pretty important for creative writers, and as I delve into my character’s background, appearance and cultural upbringing I realised how much I’ve missed doing it.

Photo via Ethan Gilsdorf

As a plus, the DM gave me a whole continent to create and detail. Since he’s got a lot of work to do for the game and knows my skills and passion for writing and creating. So now I get to dive back into world creation too!

What’s Next?

Character and world creation isn’t all there is to writing. While I won’t get a chance for any plot writing, when we play the game I will have to respond to events in a way appropriate to my character’s personality. Having no control of the plot should actually challenge and grow my ability to keep characters in character.

Oh, and did I mention the character I’ve created is an evil dark elf who wants to get strong so she can one day rule the world? Her personality is definitely going to keep me on my toes and be a ton of fun to play.

What I’ve Learnt About My Writer’s Block

I’m still struggling to write, but am leaping into the deep end for my upcoming D&D game. So what’s actually getting in my way? Clearing it’s not the act of writing I’m struggling with.

After thinking about it, I’ve realised my writer’s block is the pressure of creating a character, a world, a plot that actually has some worth. As in, one day I will submit it to publishers.

With the stress of the past year, that’s just too much. I could just write things for myself, but it feels like a complete waste of time and energy. I have the desire to feel like progressing in something, but not something too grand.

And it just so happened that I was invited to participate in a new D&D game some friends of mine were going to do. A solid, tangible goal for my writing that doesn’t overwhelm my poor over-stretched nerves.

 

I’m hoping that the act of writing without the pressure will get me back into the swing of things and help me overcome my writer’s block when it comes to personal creative writing projects. We’ll see how things go and I’ll keep you updated!

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