Witty Wordsmith: How to Avoid Burnout | UFOP: StarBase 118 Star Trek RPG

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Witty Wordsmith: How to Avoid Burnout

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“I don’t know what to do next in the story.”

“I have writer’s block.”

“I’m just not interested in my character anymore.”

Have you ever gotten these feelings?  Have you had a hard time connecting to the story and the game?  Burnout is a natural pitfall of any hobby, especially creative ones.  It happens to everyone at some point in their simming career.  But there are some tricks to enjoying the game long term, and to rebound from feelings of burnout without quitting the game for long spans of time.

At base, burnout is when you don’t know what to do next with your character.  This could be because you can’t think of what actions to take next or could be due to a feeling of disconnection from the character where you don’t care about what happens.  Either way, the longer it goes on the more likely you’ll stop having fun with the game.  So how do you stop this from happening and turn it around?

The first step is to evaluate how many scenes you’re currently playing.  Are you playing more than just your character, taking on NPC roles or even playing on more than one ship?  Consider that you always need time to think about and process the story that you’re participating in to enjoy it and be able to affect it.  There’s no need to stretch yourself thin when you’re starting to feel burnout.  See if you can talk with your CO or ship’s staff to focus only on your PC if you think you’re stretching yourself over too many scenes and always take some downtime to read and think about what’s going on in the plot before you write.

If you’ve already evaluated your commitment and you’re still having trouble connecting with your character there’s a few things you can try.  These mental exercises help you reconnect with the reasons you created your character in the first place and give you a plan for how you can return to writing about that character in a way you love.

Star by asking yourself why you wanted to play this character when you first created them.  Sometimes characters can get pushed around by the overall plot, changing in ways we never expected.  While this can bring some great drama to our writing, sometimes we lose the reason we loved the character in the first place.  Go back to when you created this character and pick out the important reasons on why you wanted to play them.  Did the character originally have similarities to you the player that you enjoyed?  Did you have plans for character development that never got realized?  What made the character special to you?  Answering these questions can help direct where and how you want to move forward with the character.  This is especially important if you feel disconnected after a big change in the story line – it can help you focus on what really makes you happy writing about.

Another exercise you can try is to describe your character as if you were trying to explain that character to someone who had never heard of SB118 before.  When you try to describe something for an outsider you naturally tend to emphasize what is most important to you about that character.  If you can’t immediately think of why you loved your character when you created them, then try this exercise to let the important aspects of that character naturally bubble up.

The last exercise you can try is to write a sim where you the player have a conversation with your character.  You could do this in your head or on paper.  If you could talk to your character what would you ask?  What would they say?  This is a great way to get your brain thinking about the character and making connections with them.

If you try these exercises and you still find yourself suffering burnout, the best advice is to talk to your ship’s staff.  They can help you take a break or integrate a new character that you’ll be happier playing.  Remember that talking through burnout helps get you over it faster and that everyone has struggled with this issue.  Fellow players will be happy to help you overcome it!