As I wait for The Role to hit shelves, I finally have the opportunity to work on something new. Generally, I adore beginning new projects, but there is a little more pressure as a soon-to-be published author to make sure that whatever I write next is as good (and hopefully better) than The Role. I was having trouble getting started until I downloaded a game called Terraria, basically a 2D version of Minecraft. I bought it mostly because I love playing video games, though I could claim it was “research” as I hope to write about gaymers in my next book. I’m happy to report that over the past two weeks, Terraria has really helped me jumpstart my creative process.
What makes Terraria perfect for an author starting on a new book is that it has all the tropes of a traditional RPG, but allows the player to manipulate the in-game world at will. I’ve found I personally play better when I’ve crafted a story to explain why I’m building a sky highway to nowhere or summoning the Brain of Cthulu. Once I was confronting a boss to prove my character’s worth as a hero, rather than because I’d finished my sky highway and was bored, my skills instantly improved. Playing Terraria is similar to dreaming for me. It allows my brain to relax by shifting my focus from the blank page on my computer to something concrete that I know I can do. With each tiny micro-achievement I complete, I feel bits and pieces of my new novel fall into place. Like all forms of author “research” there is always the risk that I’ll get lost down a hole (which could be quite literal in this game!) so I’m happy to have my husband and daughter around to assure that I don’t spend all of my free time gaming and devote at least some of that time to writing.