Web comic "Surfer Joe"

The Puzzle of Storytelling (#060)

The Puzzle of Storytelling

If you know your own limitations, then you have the power to push them.

The trick is figuring out your limitations are. This is something I find to be difficult because I am a very stubborn person… Or maybe driven… Yeah, let’s go with driven. I have a tendency to bite off more than I can chew, although it always takes me to interesting places. I also learn a lot by doing this.

One of my favorite video games of all time is called Romancing Saga. It’s a Japanese RPG from the Super Famicom era. This game could be really frustrating because if you didn’t do everything right from the beginning you could dig yourself into a hole you can’t get out of. The only option then is to start over from the beginning. This was counter-intuitive to the way most JRPGs work, so a lot of players struggle. But once you understand how to play it, then it becomes a lot of fun. You just have to make it through a few re-starts.

I’ve always enjoyed things like this, activities that are like puzzles to solve. Surfing is this way. With the addition of Mother Nature, it makes for an infinitely varied experience. It never gets old. Chess is also this way. A puzzle to outwit your opponent. Running a business is yet another complex puzzle, and this aspect makes it fun. I guess since I was little my instinct has always been to puzzle solve. 

The greatest type of puzzle I’ve attempted is the one of storytelling. It is hard! It requires you to fill your head with fiction, and juggle all the fiction balls while you find places to put them. You HAVE to write stuff down! You WILL forget. Guaranteed. It’s like putting together a jigsaw puzzle, only you’re painting the pieces as you go. I’ve forgotten so many great scenes or lines of dialogue because I forget to write them down.

In order to battle this, I remember to take something to write with wherever I go. Sometimes of record voice memos on my iPhone. This works well while driving. I get a lot of ideas while I’m driving. It’s the worst possible place for inspiration to hit, and yet it never fails to strike. I just try and hold the thought until I can find a red light, and then quickly turn on my recorder.

Writing things down gives you permission to forget about them. You’re going to forget anyway so you might as well do it with a clear conscience. It lets the idea out and you don’t have to spend energy trying to hold on to it. And saves you from the guilt of letting it slip away. So you won’t have to write blog posts like this one.

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