Despite a constant flow of ideas from readers and our play group, every once in a while I run completely dry. It's an occupational hazard.
When this happens, I'm lucky enough to be able to turn to my wife to help me through these writer's block moments. MaryJanice Davidson is an accomplished, best-selling author (www.maryjanicedavidson.net, but you should probably enjoy sassy modern romances before investigating) who spends her entire time either (a) writing, (b) sleeping, (c) having fun with our kids, or (d) all three at once. (She is that darn talented.) It's a hell of a way to live, and I'm insanely jealous.
So I'm sitting at my computer with a blank screen, facing a deadline, and she's nearby, typing away without a sweat, even though she does this every single freaking day. So I figure I'll distract her and put that amazing mind to work for me. This is, after all, what men do best: suck the life force from the women we love.
I put on my Best Husband Voice. "Honey?"
Type-ity type type. "What."
"I need a topic for my column this week."
Tippety-type-ity-tap. "What column?"
"You know…for magicthegathering.com."
Tap-da-tapper-tapper-rap. "Oh yeah. That. How much are they paying you again for this?"
I tell her.
Tap-er-rap-de-tap-ra. "Hmmm. I just made that much typing while you were talking to me. So what's the problem again, dear?"
"I need a topic. I've got writer's block."
Rappa-tappa-doo. "Writer's block? What's that?"
"I hate you."
Trappa-click-clack-cluck. "Come again?"
"I said, writer's block is when you can't think of what to write next."
Tap. Tap. "There, finished another novel. Now, what's this about not being able to think of what to write?"
"Pretend you can't write, like the rest of us mortals."
She closes her eyes and rubs her temples for a moment or two. "Okay, I'm there."
"What would you write your next weekly Magic column about?"
"About how I can't play Magic."
"Promising, but my readers already know I can't play Magic. In a way, they read about that every week."
"How about the novel we're doing together that's coming out in August? Your readers are a great market for it."
"Not really Magic-related, and I've already plugged you in the article. I'll wait to plug our book another time. What else ya got?"
"Hmmmm." Panic tinges her eyes, and for the first time I think she's beginning to realize what it's really like for the rest of us. "I got nothing. Guess you're screwed, champ." She gets up. "I'm getting a Peanut Buster Bar from the freezer. You want one?"
So, to hell with her. We can come up with a column together, can't we? Sure we can. We can do anything! We can move from Tuesdays to Wednesdays. We can pair up with Adrian Sullivan, who's from Wisconsin for crying out loud. We can even take up a line or two with another joking reference at Mark Rosewater's expense. (We can spend another couple in awe of his most excellent article on women and card design mistakes.) So we can write a column with the readers' help, right? Absolutely.
Here's how it works. I'm going to get this article moving, and every once in a while I'm going to come to a decision point where I could write one of several paragraphs. You, the readers, get to choose which paragraphs I actually write.
Once you've chosen a paragraph, you can move forward to the rest of the article. Later on, you can come back and choose a different paragraph for that part of the article. Whatever makes you happiest with the flow of the article. When you're done, you'll have your very own Serious Fun column!
The New Format For This Week
As we try to do most weeks, we'll focus today's Serious Fun column on exciting new format. This is a format that:
While I like to leave a lot of reader latitude for experimentation, I don't mind providing a bit more detail on how to play the format. Here are some additional parameters you should consider:
To convince your group to try this format, you should take the following steps:
Experiences With The Format
We tried this format in our group. Here's how it played out.
As a result of these experiences, I recommend the following strategies if you try the format:
I hope you enjoyed this week's article. The most rewarding part for me was
Have a great week!