Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Get Out of Your Way

I started noticing this with writers, or people who intended to be writers, or artists, or whatever. "I'd like to..." they'd say, and when I said, "Why don't you?" the answer was: "Well, first I'd have to..."

And it's never anything they actually have to do first. I totally agree that if you want to write about the sinking of the Bismark you have to do a big chunk of research before you do much in the way of real writing; though personally I'd count that as part of the writing process. No, it's first I have to get some sort of tool (artists are really bad about this) or take some class or get better at this other thing, or go and do something completely irrelevant. Granted, somebody has to pay the rent; but you're not at the soul-sucking day job 24 hours a day and you'll never get a break from it if you don't give yourself one.

But here lately I've noticed people doing the same thing with their play. Someone wants to run a certain kind of role-playing game, but doesn't have a finished map, or the entire society set up ahead of time, or all his NPCs detailed. Newsflash: the players can only be on one part of the map at a time, you won't have time to refer to your NPC notes in the heat of play anyway, and you can improvise better than you think you can.

Someone else wants to play a Sims game; but they don't have all the custom content they want for it and the thought of tracking it all down, or making their own, is exhausting. So? It's a solo game. You're the only one playing. No one's going to be judging what you do, except you. Yeah, it'd be cool if your Test of Time Challenge sims had complete immersion sets that really looked like Neolithic huts, Egyptian palaces, etc.; but you know what? No matter how much custom content you put in there, the sims are still going to roll inappropriate wants to buy electronic entertainment. And you could easily spend a year making stuff and still find, in play, that you want something you didn't think of, but never actually use the sabertooth tiger teddy bear that you sweated blood over. So why not relax about it, get what you can as you can, and make the custom content you feel a real need for when the need for it makes the process of doing so fun and engaging?

There's active fandoms out there documenting various games and commenting on those of others; but months can go by when bloggers appear only to say that they're so far behind with the documentation that they can't play until they organize their pictures, write up the story, and make a post. Nonsense. Of course they can! No one's obliged to document everything that happens, or anything that happens. Your audience will not cease to love you if you document three months of silence with three lines of summary text and plunge back into current events; and if they do, screw them. You're not playing for them. You owe them nothing.

You don't need to have the new glove in order to play baseball. Someone will loan you a glove. You don't need the perfect shoes to hike in; choose trails that your existing shoes can cope with while you're saving up for the good boots you want.

You don't need a new dress to go to a party - just change up your accessories. Anyone who judges you for wearing a dress twice is someone you don't need to associate with anyway. The people who matter most either won't notice, or will admire you just as much as they did the first time you wore the dress.

You don't need anybody's permission, and no one is setting these requirements except you. Set different requirements and get out of your way.

If you need somebody's permission - here's mine. Enjoy yourself.

If you won't, who will?

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