I've been thinking a lot lately about role-playing games, and what life would be like without actively playing them, and if I made a decision to seriously lower their priority in my life. I came to the conclusion it actually would not be a bad thing. It surprised me initially, but I soon came to realize it might actually be a really positive move.
First, I've not run a role-playing game in six months. The last few campaigns that I have run have felt hallow and unfulfilling. There seems to be a pattern; I have an idea, I spend a lot of time and energy developing the idea for the game, I run a few sessions, I become unsatisfied with the direction of the game, the game sputters along until it finally stalls, repeat. That's it. Yet campaign ideas fill my head all the time, and I develop them to various degrees of completion, but none of the development ever comes to the table during play. I write reams of information on the gods, civilizations, and lots of minor details, almost none of which is practical for the in-game experience. So publish this wonderful world you say. I can't. Most of my game development borrows heavily from other gaming sources and as such is unfit for publication, what with copyright infringement and all that good stuff. I must enjoy the creative process involved in that. So, I'll suffice to say that it does take up some of my time for no real reward beyond satisfying some creative side of my brain.
So I can say that I'm done with the game design and GM aspects of this hobby, I just need to invest time in something else. Stop creating things that have no purpose.
When it comes to playing in campaigns, I do enjoy it in fact I really enjoy it. It also doesn't take up that great amount of time so it's not really an issue. At the same time though, I am conscious of the fact that the time I do put into creating characters and developing them could probably be better spent writing something else, or using those skills in another fashion.
In short, I've realized, well, not so much realized, more allowed myself to notice again, that role-playing games are in many ways my lazy excuse for not writing publishable fiction. Okay, publication is a long shot, but I could certainly write more frequently and develop the skills and habits that I'll need in order to become a published author. After all, what's the worst that could happen if I was left with no role-playing group? Maybe finish a novel and get published.
I'm a firm believer that if I could force myself to stop role-playing games from being such a heat sink for my imagination I may stop being so lazy when it comes to being actually published, after all, it has to go somewhere. Since my current employment schedule cuts heavily into my available weekends which will make this much easier to do, I'm going to ,begin giving it a try.
The plan is to downgrade my creative effort as a player, which can be done by not acting under the misguided principle that I'm a co-GM or something. I'm going to stop, totally, working on campaign ideas that will not come to actual play. This should generate some free time, and a growing potential of creative thought that can be put to writing material for
The surprising thing is, the first few steps are working, I've not purchased any role-playing material for months, and I've not worked on any of my gaming related projects for an equal amount of time. It's sort of liberating.