Playing To Teach A Friend

It’s hard to believe that I have been feeling blocked for the past three weeks, especially when two of those weeks were away from work enjoying some “non-contact time” (what non-teachers call “holiday”) at home. But this has been my experience: blocked… at least, until this morning.

This morning, spurred by some words that were spoken by a new friend – Jon, the creator of the “Tale of The Manticore” podcast. Chatting in an interview (which you will be able to hear this coming Saturday), Jon made an almost throw-away remark about his solo roleplaying game that resonated deep inside of me.

Roughly paraphrasing, Jon said something about the slightly narcissistic nature of all creative endeavour and commented that, without an audience, he wouldn’t have been motivated to create his audio drama that is based on his game of Dungeons & Dragons. This thought niggled at me for about four days… and unlocked something very simple.

This morning, waking early (as is natural for me) I found myself wanting to get back to playing solo. The tension and stress that has tended to cause me to lock up evaporated. What I needed to do suddenly struck me: “Why don’t you write up the narrative and description of play as if you were writing to teach a friend?”

Honestly, this was powerful: sitting down with my A4 notebook, a pencil, some dice, and a character sheet – with my iPad on standby so I could look at a .PDF copy of the rules – I began to imagine the game that I’ve been trying to play since the summer.

I described a scene. Then I explained what I was doing as I created the character, making a record of my thoughts and choices… and before I knew it, I was deep into play.

Around three hours later, I was roused from my scribblings by the need to start cooking. Yet, looking over the pages of notes, I realised that I have accomplished something meaningful and deeply important to my creative self. I have made progress.

This is my learning: you’re not writing for yourself; you’re always writing for someone else’s benefit… even if you never choose to share that writing with the wider world.

Game on!


  1. I hope we’ll get a chance to read this, Che! Hey, do you remember how old rpgs often had a sample script that did just what you are describing, only in pure dialogue form? I ate those up as a kid and wished they would go on forever!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was toying with the idea of dramatising the narrative, Jon… but I certainly aim to type up and edit the draft sometime down the line. One idea is to make it into a proper script for podcasting. Or I could serialise and post them here.

      Liked by 1 person

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