Writing can be a stressful task for even the most experienced writers, so the occasional method of unwinding can do wonders for the creative psyche. But can these various stress relievers actually improve your fantasy writing? If utilized correctly, I think they can not only help let off some steam, but do wonders for world-building, character development, dialogue, and a litany of other skills. Let’s look at some of my favorite methods of stress relief and see how many you might be able to add to your fantasy writing utility belt.
A wonderful way to pass the time and ease a headache, doodling characters, monsters, maps and the sort can really help awaken some fantastic ideas. I’ve spent hours doodling various monsters that have ended up in my Splatter Elf stories and sometimes the doodles transform into full-blown art. This is a pretty common method of brainstorming, so nothing too mind-blowing here, but it’s worth a mention.
Some of the biggest names in fantasy grew up playing games, tabletop or otherwise, and those eventually awakened ideas for stories. Dungeons & Dragons is a favorite of many, but even playing board games and card games can give loads of ideas for world-building. An image or character design might trigger some connection and then you’re off to the races!
Of course we can’t forget video games which have become more and more creative over the years. Creating your own character in an RPG might bleed over to your writing when you’ve run out of digital adventures. Nothing keeps a character going longer than the writer’s pen.
I’m not as well-versed in crafts, but I know a lot of people are active on Etsy making jewelry, clothing, baby doll heads and all manner of accessories. Even just browsing the site can give lots of ideas, but crafting something on your own can do even more. Got 20 bucks to spend? Go down to your local hobby store, buy some random art supplies, and see what you can throw together in a weekend. You might have just spawned the next big baddie for your fantasy novel.
This kind of defeats the purpose of meditation you might say, but while you’re sitting there clearing your mind, maybe let a few ideas seep through the cracks. You’ll feel refreshed afterwards and might even have some great ideas to work with afterwards. For an upgrade, you can even do yoga. Stretching your muscles can also stretch your brain. Stretching your brain releases the imagination.
Need to work on action scenes? The best way we can do that is by going outside and running around. How does it feel to have someone crash into you or get a ball thrown into your face? You can utilize these experiences into your fantasy writing by just substituting a dodge ball for a morning star. They probably feel similar, right?
6. Screaming and/or Crying
One of my absolute favorite stress relievers, sometimes screaming or crying while looking in a mirror can help you with those emotive moments in your novel. What does an elf face look like after his whole village was slaughtered by hobgoblin warlocks? Maybe like your scrunched-up reflection! Use these breakdown moments to squeeze out the tears to fuel your fantasy engine.
7. Netflix Binge
You might think watching TV or movies for hours on end during a weekend might not do much for your creativity. Well, I disagree! It can do wonders for your mind just to let it turn to goo. Then, when you’re ready to write, you’ll have a lot more energy to do so. Sometimes we have to allow our brains to turn to mush in order to reform it like modeling clay.
8. Weird Part of Youtube
Finding a comment at the bottom of a video that says “I think I wandered into the weird part of Youtube again” is akin to going down the rabbit hole of your fantastical mind. Weirdness is one of the best ways to cultivate speculative fiction because it makes you think outside of the box. I would put a time limit on this activity though because you need to channel that weirdness into writing at some point. Youtube at 4 am won’t let go if you keep clicking.
You see lots of weird junk at parties. Even if you’re not the biggest party person, you can see all sorts of behavior at parties that can help with fantasy writing. You can see drunken people stumbling around just like in the good old fashioned fantasy tavern, maybe a fight breaks out, and if you’re lucky, you might even break out into song.
10. Goat Demon Summoning
This seems to be an obvious choice, but it can have its dangers as well. Be sure you have a hold on the goat demon you’re summoning before you go through with this endeavor. You should have a soul capture stone to prevent the demon from tearing you apart. Goat demons are fountains of knowledge though and can really assist with some of those nagging scenes that won’t seem to come together.
11. Horseback Riding
Lots of people ride horses in fantasy novels, so why not ride one? You can use this experience to also simulate riding a unicorn, a pegasus, a centaur or any other horse-like beastie.
Ah, good ole reliable reading. Yeah, go read a book. That usually helps.
13. Playing a lute
I’ve never done this, but I imagine playing a lute, the most fantastical instrument of all, might release your inner bard. Releasing your inner bard can lead to all sorts of prologue ideas. Poems, ancient songs, battle hymns, you name it!
If using one of these methods doesn’t work for you, you can always mix-and-match. Summon a goat demon while crafting a steampunk necklace or ride a horse while playing a lute. Read a book and scream. Whatever tickles your fancy and helps unlock all that fantasy goodness.
Now that I’ve shared some ideas that not only help me relieve stress but also improve my writing, I’d love to hear from you. What are some stress relievers you use to not only ease your mind, but to get those creative juices flowing? Share in the comments below!
Philip Overby can be found at PhilipOverby.com and his weird, bloody, darkly humorous Splatter Elf stories are available at Amazon.