How To Beat Prep Anxiety

Roleplaying Tips Newsletter #0766

Here’s a cool experiment from fellow RPT reader Iona to reduce the anxiety she felt before games. As smart, caring, sensitive people, we GMs want the best experience for our players. But this leads to perfectionism, imposter syndrome, and unease before sessions.

Here’s how Iona solved it.

I have something I would like to share with other struggling Roleplaying Tips GMs in the community.

I have had trouble with Prep Anxiety for a long time, never spending enough time on prep, always worrying I didn’t do enough.

I’ve spent a lot of time trying to learn methods to spend less time on prepping or be less anxious while prepping, such as following the Adventure Building Workshop here at Roleplaying Tips or watching videos on the topic by Adam Koebel and Steven Lumpkin.

All those things helped a little bit at a time.

But there was one thing that eventually gave me that little extra push I needed. That thing was me being fed up with myself and deciding I was going to run a few sessions entirely improvised.

I recruited a group of players just for this who were aware the sessions were going to be improvised and thus might not run smooth and might include certain amounts of panicking.

I sort of ended up surprising myself, as I realised I could create satisfying story without prepping and with only minor amounts of panicking and blackout.

I am aware this was a solution that worked for me in my particular situation. I’d already learned a lot of tricks that allowed for improvisation. For example, you can create fast NPCs by deciding three random facts about them, or how to take more notes during the session. But I want to put this method out there for others to see.

If you are struggling with prep anxiety, even though you’ve read guides and looked up tips and tricks, consider bringing a group together that are willing to experiment with you.

I only allowed myself to read the rulebook as prep, so I was aware of the mechanics of the game system. And, at the start of the session, every player would give me one thing they’d like to see in the game that session so I was forced to improvise with what they gave me. Additionally, I was allowed to make notes during the session (so in-session prep was fine).

Hope this is helpful for someone out there. 🙂

Thanks very much for sharing this with us, Iona. Do you have prep anxiety? Please share your story on the RPT Facebook page. You are not alone.