Mindless Gaming: My Key to Removing Creative Blocks

First and foremost: It Hungers is available for pre-sale in paperback form on Amazon.com! So, this is an unofficial update on The Romance Novel Project where I talk about one of the dreaded aspects of any creative endeavor: creator block. Yes, I’ve talked about Writer’s Block before, but now I’m going to talk about one of the ways I find that helps me overcome it: mindless gaming.

Mindless gaming? What might that be? Well, mindless gaming is playing any type of repetitive gaming action that requires minimal mental effort, allowing the mind to work on other things while the game is played.

I learned this while working on my M.A. thesis in Anthropology. My data presented me with a conundrum that the literature in the field told me should not happen. So, I put my data down and started playing World of Warcraft. This was during the last few weeks of the Burning Crusade days, and having completed all the raids, I was left with doing my 25 daily quests to obtain faction reputation. Thanks to the Isle of Quel’Danas, I could complete almost all of them in one location. And these quests were almost always identical each day, so I developed a pattern for how I would approach them. After a few weeks, this became an exercise in muscle memory.

While this might sound boring to some, it actually allowed me to go into a weird sort of meditative state where my body focused on one task, but my mind was elsewhere. And being elsewhere, my mind turned over my data, the literature, and the conundrum that had me stumped. This went on for about three weeks, until one day I found the answer while playing WoW.

And that brings us to The Romance Novel Project. I’m kind of stuck now that my disasters have disastered away my outline. So, I’m back to using mindless gaming, this time the cozy Stardew Valley is my mindless game of choice. Yes, there’s a super rich story and lore for the game; however, most of the game’s tasks revolve around farming, which is repetitive.

This time, I’m using the Gamadoro method, a gaming specific play on the pomodoro method. I try to write between 200 and 400 words and then I play Stardew for 2-3 hours. And while my progress is slower than I would like, I am plodding along and working through the blockage. I let the ideas come while playing, roll them over in my mind, and then commit them, piece by piece, to the page. It’s slow, but it’s progress.

And beating creative blockages is to continue making progress.

2 thoughts on “Mindless Gaming: My Key to Removing Creative Blocks

  1. Well what a coincidence. I’m actually playing Stardew at the moment, but not for working my writing out. Perhaps I should start doing what you’re doing and see how it goes. Anyway, thanks for sharing!

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    • I’ve had professors tell me it’s a process similar to walking the labyrinth in the Middle Ages, which makes sense, and I know a handful of runners who come up with ideas while on their daily 5-10 miles. If you do try it, I hope it works for you!

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