Sunday, March 9, 2014

Recharging My Creative Batteries--True Detective and Dark Souls

One of the internal struggles I deal with as a writer is how I should be spending my precious free time when I have it. I think the prevailing wisdom is that if you want to be a writer, you need to be writing whenever you can. As a husband, father, coach and podcaster, I don't have a ton of time outside of my full-time day job that's "free." What I have discovered about myself over the past few years however, is that in order for me to get the most out of my writing, I also need to spend time with stuff that other people have created.

Again, for a lot of writers I think this usually translates into reading when they're not writing, and I do a healthy amount of that, to be sure. But I also find that I need to consume other types of media as well. Movies, TV, games and music are all things I need to spend a healthy amount of time with to recharge my writing batteries.

I've actually stopped watching a lot of TV and movies over the past few years, but every once in a while I really latch onto something and get obsessive about it. Right now, the show True Detective has become my TV show of choice. From top to bottom, it's an amazingly well put together show, and the references to the King in Yellow that are woven into the story are just icing on the cake for me.

On the gaming front, I love a good roleplaying game with a richly detailed world that I can immerse myself in. Next week Dark Souls II comes out, and I cannot wait to dive into it. The Souls series of games feature worlds that are dripping with atmosphere and have a ton of lore for you to dig into as you explore. The world also feature a lot of mystery, and the community of gamers who play the Souls games has continued to develop theories about the less detailed parts of the worlds and characters featured in the games.

What both True Detective and the Souls games have in common is just that--they show you a world and tell you a story, but they also leave a lot of mystery for the reader or player to work out on their own. H.P. Lovecraft was much the same way, hence why people are still theorizing about the Cthulhu mythos more than a hundred years after many of Lovecraft's stories were written.

I recharge my creative batteries by experiencing other worlds that force me to fill in some of the details for myself. That process is one that I take back into my own writing, and if I'm lucky apply in a way that give my readers a story they can think about long after they've read it.

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