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5 steps to fight worldbuilding fatigue

It’s the new year! Time to Get Shit Done™ and have the most productive start ever! … Right?
Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m completely burnt out from over-doing the creative challenges in the last few months of the year (Inktober, NaNoWriMo and WorldEmber to name a few). I threw myself in the deep end, and have crawled out of the other side like a drowned rat. After hanging out on my favourite Discord servers I soon realised that I wasn’t the only one feeling completely demotivated and uninspired, so I decided to do something about it.

Here are the 5 steps that got me unstuck from my worldbuilding fatigue. These are inspired by the “agile worldbuilding” techniques from a presentation by World Anvil, which creates a continuous loop of creating, reviewing and refining a world (or a bit of your world).

The video is here if you want to check it out! (There are lots of other great worldbuilding tips in there too, so grab a cup of tea).

1. Tidy your to do list

If you’re anything like me, you’ve got a hideously large to do list full of ideas, snippets, things to refine, things to add, things to remove and a bunch of miscellaneous stuff too.

TIDY THAT SHIT UP. Focus on what is most important and mark those tasks as a priority. Get your tasks organised (no matter what method of to do list you’re using) and start slapping some deadlines/due dates on these things.

Going through my to do list really helped me assess what needed to be done next in my world and which things could be broken down into simpler, more manageable tasks.

2. Review your existing work

After getting my head straight with my to do list, I then went and reviewed my existing worldbuilding. What bits worked well as concepts? Which ones needed some fleshing out? Were there any large unexplained concepts?

I read my articles as if I’m a new reader to the world and see if any questions spring up that will need explaining.

I added these notes to my now tidy to do list and set their priority levels. A lot of these were low priority tasks such as typos, updating images or making sure that articles were linked together, but bigger tasks included mapmaking and timelines.

3. Plan your next section

Next, I sat down with a cup of tea and my to do list and figured out what was the most important task to work on next in my world. Sometimes things need to go in a logical order, but as with the different approaches of top-down and bottom-up worldbuilding, it’s up to you how you expand your world

4. Create something!

The next part is the hardest bit. Overcoming the writer’s block, the creative brain-strain that prevents progress. It’s much harder to get going again once you’ve become stuck, but the best way of tackling it is to CREATE SOMETHING.

This can be an entirely new part of your world, like a species or location, or as I found it can be easier to expand upon one of your existing concepts and make it better.

5. Refine your worldbuilding

After creating some new worldbuilding content, be it visual or written, the biggest thing I’ve taken away from this is to refine my work. My process for this is usually; checking for spelling and grammar errors, polishing the layout, adding images and making sure it reads well.

After these steps, I can continue the process again and see what’s next on the list!

In summary:

  1. Tidy your to do list
  2. Review your existing work
  3. Plan what to create next
  4. Create stuff (and things)
  5. Refine your worldbuilding

I have found that using these agile development techniques got me back into a healthy creative routine where I can maintain a productive workflow and keep doing what I love: worldbuilding!

What methods do you use to get motivated to worldbuild again? Let me know in the comments, on Twitter or via the contact form!

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