Solving writer’s block through storytelling games

I often lament the times that I am away from my writing. I chide myself that I should be writing all the time instead of doing other tasks. But in the real world, you do need to do other things besides writing like laundry and cooking. What makes me feel better too is that usually I come back feeling enriched from what I have been doing–yes, even if it is chores–and with fresh thoughts about my writing. Obstacles which I had been facing before suddenly become manageable. I have been using my brain for other tasks and new insights come from that time.

And, yes I admit that sometimes I would rather be writing when I am looking after my child. But at least she loves to play games. I loved board games as a child, and I never understood why people say “board games are for the bored”. That’s certainly not true. Most have a lot of value and teach skills such as cooperation, problem solving, and good sportsmanship.

One type of game that may solve your creative block while at the same time entertaining your kids is the storytelling game. There are several different versions along the same line.

“Tell Tale Fairy Tales” by Blue Orange has a set of cards with a variety of images on them, standard fairy tale images that repeat themselves, like dragons, bubbling cauldrons, and treasure chests. There are a variety of ways to play the game, but my favourite is where you leave the cards upside down and only turn the card face up when it is your turn. I find the richest stories come out of that way of playing the game. Otherwise you may spend too much time thinking about how you want the story to go.  If you do not want fairy tale images, there are other versions that you can play.

Related to that game is “Rory’s story cubes”. These games have a set of dice with various images on them. Roll the dice and try to come up with a story out of the cubes. There are also variations of the game. We found the actions version to be much more difficult than the regular version. Using verbs instead of nouns to make up a story is definitely more challenging. The game is billed for eight years and up, but my five year old has no problem playing it.

Of course, you can also play these games by yourself. Pick a time when you are feeling unmotivated to write and see what you come up with.

Storytelling is a skill that is underrated in our society. But really it is a building block to literacy. It is also an excellent way to engage a reluctant reader. For more information about how to integrate storytelling into your life, check out TVO parents.


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