Fears about Starting Writing

Hi all! I’ve been an avid CoG and Hosted Games reader and amateur writer for a while. I love reading all these stories (finished or not) and I’m checking this forum almost daily. The more I’ve read, the stronger my urge has become to write a story of my own.

I have a bit of a problem: I am absolutely terrified at the prospect of writing something like this. The sheer size of the story, every aspect you need to consider, my lack of experience in writing larger stories… And that’s not even getting into the fact that I’ve always struggled with being not creative at all, or my perfectionism. It makes it very hard for me to write even five hundred words of a scene, let alone come up with a general concept, multiple characters or anything like that.

But even despite everything, I still want to dive into it. I’m probably not the only one who struggles with these things, so I’m posting all this in the hope that you all could give me your two cents. Does anyone have any tips or stories to share about this as well? Some advice, your experiences, or anything at all would be greatly appreciated! <3

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My advice is to start small, focus on cultivating your abilities more than finishing the greatest work of all time, and above all, finish what you started. I, same as everyone, have been guilty of abandoning projects, but if you don’t make it, it won’t exist. It doesn’t need to make sense yet, it doesn’t need to be good; just make it, full stop. The more you make the better you’ll get.

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Start with a sentence story. Then 2 sentences. And 3. The incorporate all of that into a single story. Until before you know it, it writes itself.

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When writing try to remember that no reader has ever found something they liked and wished there was less of it. Readers don’t want a tiny slice of perfection that you’ve agonised over for years, they want lots of ‘good enough’ and they’d like to have it as often as possible.

If you have an idea for a story start working on it - could be the beginning, could be the middle, could be one scene, doesn’t matter. Take small steps. As long as the story progresses in a way that makes sense you don’t even need to be terribly creative, just ask yourself what could happen next and pick the most interesting option.

The worst thing that can happen is that you write a bag of poop. We’ve all written bags of poop and even they can be improved if you’re willing to listen to helpful feedback. More likely you’ll come up with something that some people will enjoy and some people won’t. The people who enjoyed it will be glad you did it. That’s the only realistic goal really, and it’s a lot less scary than aiming for perfection.

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Or alternatively, think of a situation and then ask yourself what led to it.

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I always read books or scenes from my favorite authors and sagas. It helps me write and gives me the motivation to write. To get ideas for mechanics and scenes, I watch, read, or play some games (not interactive ones, but games like Red Dead and others, or even mobile games) that help me think. But I also consider how I can make this scene important, useful, or interesting. I believe every scene or dialogue should have its significance, even if it’s minimal, like showing a character trait or something like that. Of course, it doesn’t always have to be something super interesting; it can just be a scene you think would be fun to write.

And the idea of showing rather than telling is still very good for writing. However, it doesn’t mean you should forbid yourself from writing something like “He looked at something angrily” every now and then. I hope this helps in some way :grin:

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No one ever made an omelette without breaking a few eggs.

A ship stuck in harbor is not a ship.

You miss every shot you don’t take.

It seems scary not meeting deadlines or feeling that what you write won’t be good. That’s normal. Everyone has to start somewhere. You really have nothing to lose if you start writing. Creativity is not something that comes from sitting on your hand. The most effective way to nurture that process, atleast for me, is to actually make something and go from there. Once it’s on paper and out of your head. Ideas will come to make it better as you read it.

But beware that perfection is the enemy of good enough. Think of all the media you love, none of them are perfect and all of them took risks to exist but above all what made them greater than a perfect book. Is that unlike the perfect story.

It actually exists.

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While I’m usually a cheerleader for people giving it a go, I think you need to have a very hard think about why you want to write something for HG as I can see indecision in your post on multiple fronts. Fact is, there is a good chance any writing you put up on the boards won’t get much attention. Worst cast it might not get any comments. It might, but you can’t rely on that. It doesn’t necessarily mean your game is bad, but unless you hit the sweet spot for HGs these days a lot of game threads get minimal traffic. Do you want to write for the popularity? Or will you keep writing for yourself? There are support structures around like the monthly writer’s thread but you should keep this in mind or you could just walk away from it when you don’t have the next POMA.

Procrastination and over rewriting is another enemy of HG games if you’re planning on writing something big (which I’m going to assume you are since most people don’t want to write a small game.) You need to learn how to push yourself forward or it wont get done. There are blogs and youtube videos out there on that topic. Or you could just jump in and complete small things that aren’t HGs.

An alternative would be to go to say one of the writer’s reddit pages or similar which do writing prompts and start making small anonymous stories, see how you feel, go from there. If you want to particularly make game books, make a small game for one of the jams often advertised at https://intfiction.org/

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Your first work will be your worst and that is natural. No one starts great.

Writing is about discipline. I would start with a short story, nothing you want to publish, but something you want to share. Work on that until you build up a regiment for writing. Then either finish it or move on to a full project.

I personally work with a daily/weekly wordcount goal and hyper focus on that. This does not work for everyone. For some it is a motivation, for others it is deterrent. Either way if you cn learn to set side deticated time regularly and just do it, you’ll be on your way.

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Hello Mx_Hydra my main tip is go for it, but keep realistic expectations. You’ll probably make good progress initially and then it might slow down a bit, but that’s fine. My main problem on making these games is expanding scope - for a first project its probably best to try not to over do it, though you’ll know what you’re ready for better than any of us. If you do want to aim for an easier project to begin with, I’d probably recommend gender locking the protagonist and perhaps making the other characters more static (i.e. don’t have the player pick their gender or appearance, etc.) I’d also recommend picking a setting that you feel passionate about that will help fuel your energy. Hope some of that helps, and best of luck on your projects!

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My advice is to be afraid. Be very afraid.

And then do it anyhow.

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The great Mary Robinette Kowal said it best on (the site formerly known as) Twitter:

The long and short of it is, you have to give yourself permission to suck. As a fellow perfectionist (not as bad as I used to be, thankfully), I can tell you that it’s an ongoing process. No one will see your drafts. They can be as bad as you need them to be–the key is going from an empty page to something you can edit.

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Hey Hydra,
I have some advice. If you want to write something just because you want to, I would advise you to not set a big expectation on it. For example, when I wrote my first book, I had no intent to write a book. I was writing stories for myself as long as I enjoyed it. If you set out to write a book, that is a huge undertaking and the size of it will weigh you down. And then you will have lower self esteem because you “failed at your goal.” There’s nothing wrong with starting small and setting small goals.

It sounds like you are a perfectionist, like me. I’ll give you advice even if I don’t follow it myself all the time. Just write what feels right and who cares if it’s good? You don’t have to publish it if it sucks. If it’s no good, just view it as useful practice, and something that is innately valuable. Creating something is a fulfilling act to a creative person. You say you aren’t creative but I am not convinced. I think almost anyone can be creative, even if other people have shot down their projects in the past.

I hope you take a shot at writing a story. Dive in and enjoy that passion!

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Hey there, you might want to consider checking out one of @poison_mara’s jams. They’re a great way to create a small game, and you can always expand on your entry to turn it into a larger game if you want to. I did the Halloween jam last year and it was a great experience.

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I very much enjoyed your submission btw!

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Someone say Jams? XD

I am starting planning next Halloween jam currently.

Hope people would like this year theme and want to participate both of you are welcome to rejoining

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@ViIsBae Thank you, I enjoyed yours too! :revolving_hearts:
@poison_mara Yes, I put up the bat-signal :wink: I do intend to submit again this year!

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If we wait until we’re ready, we’ll wait until the end of our lives :slight_smile:

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“It is time to take the next step on your journey”.

It is brave of you to have started. It would be a good idea to start with something small and manageable.

Some good places to showcase your work would be the various noncompetitive jams over at intfiction. May I suggest the upcoming Single Choice Jam? That way, you can hone your creative skills and since there is only one choice to make, can afford to focus more on the story and background. You could showcase your work here too, and that would have the benefit of a larger audience. Once you have something ready, throw up a WIP thread and get the ball rolling.

Remember, perfectionism is the enemy of good enough. The other man’s grass is always greener.

Find your style. I did, and have submitted stuff for some previous jams. They were… not that well received. But given I have some base here and on intfiction, it’s not that bad.

Practice. Practice. Practice. Every master was once a disciple.

Critique is natural. It’s up to you to decide to what extent it can shape your writing.

I look forward to seeing some of your work released!

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