As creators in the table top and gaming spaces (or any creative occupation), it’s scary to consider stepping back from our endeavors and taking breaks. We work hard to stay visible, current, relevant, and innovative in our communities. Because of this, the idea of stopping seems unfathomable. However, all that grinding can take a toll on a creative mind. Taking time to recharge and recover is essential. Sometimes, the best thing you can do as a creator is take a step back. Here are a few things I learned while on hiatus…
Know When You Need To Step Back
It’s easy to get caught up in the “GO, GO, GO” mentality of the TTRPG and gaming industries. It is thrilling to complete projects, realize your vision, and connect with your audience. Unfortunately, it’s also very draining. Everyone’s threshold for how much work they can feasibly accomplish is different. Learning how your own creative and social energies work is vital in avoiding burnout. If you’re starting to feel burnt out, it’s better to allow yourself time to recharge and get excited about your projects again.
Decide What A Break Looks Like For You
There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to downtime. Some people can only stay away from their work for an evening. Others need uninterrupted weeks or even longer before they can get back in a creative headspace. Take some time to assess what you need when you start to feel burned out. And don’t feel obligated to start working again just because you set a firm break cutoff time. Whether you need a couple hours away or a six month hiatus, there’s no wrong way to do what’s best for you.
What If Taking A Break Feels Bad?
Several emotions can spring up when you make the choice to take a break. Guilt. Disappointment. Anxiety. Sadness. Jealousy. Try not to let these feelings overtake you. Also, don’t compare your own situation to other creatives. Someone else’s success does not equal your failure. Just because they release a new supplement every week or have a funded Kickstarter every quarter, it doesn’t mean that’s the benchmark of success. Instead, focus on yourself and what you need to mentally prepare for getting back to work!
What Should My Break Look Like?
You’re a multifaceted person who has interests other than creating games. However, other areas of your life take a backseat when you spend the majority of your time creating. Why not rediscover and give them the attention they need while taking a break? Finish reading that book, show, or video game you set down and forgot about. Focus on those house projects or repairs you’ve been putting off. Even call up a friend you haven’t seen in a while. You can do anything you want that refreshes your mind, body, and/or spirit.
Talk Less, Play More
On the other hand, why not dive back into gaming as a consumer rather than creator? We creators tend to spend more time talking about and promoting our work than actually playing the games we love. If you find yourself taking a break from creating, why not get back into games? Start up a TTRPG mini campaign or have a one shot. Bust out your favorite board games. Throw on a podcast and tackle painting your hoard of miniatures. If you can, snap some pictures of your gaming pastimes and post them on your social media! It’s good to remind your audience that you’re a real person that’s invested in the hobby.
Passively Stay Active
You don’t have to go completely radio silent just because you’re on hiatus. Keep up with your favorite creators and influencers if you have the mental bandwidth. A light presence on social media reminds people that you exist without being too strenuous. Plus, remaining aware of the latest happenings in your industry minimizes the work you’ll have to do when returning. Alternatively, if social media is what you’re trying to get away from on your break, consider following an influencer that reports on the industry in a way that’s easily digestible.
How To Return
You’ve recognized your need for a break. You’ve given yourself time to recover your creativity. You’re ready to start creating once more! But how do you jump back into it? I find it’s best to make a plan for your return. Do you want to phase back in gradually? Burst back on to the scene with your exciting new work? Get back into a consistent routine? Or some combination of these? There’s no wrong way to return. Just make sure you’ve recouped your creative energy and rekindled your love of creating games!
Your mental health matters! Until next time, stay creepy and happy gaming.