Looking for a New Hobby? 5 Reasons to Try Solo Role Playing Games

Over the last couple of years, I’ve been dipping my toe into the world of tabletop role playing games (TTRPGs), and I honestly can’t believe it’s taken me this long to discover how much fun they are.

When it comes to games, I am definitely more of a board game lover. I don’t particularly like combat in video games– I find losing/dying stressful. I was worried that Dungeons and Dragons would feel like that.

Instead I discovered how fun it could be to roll dice and tell a story together. I’m so used to writing alone, it’s amazing to sit around a computer screen (sadly not a table), and hear people’s creativity flow through their characters.

And as I’ve gotten involved in the genre, I’ve seen that there’s way more to it than just the big title games. There is room for everyone and every interest in role playing games, and I love finding small creators that are creating their own worlds, experimenting with mechanics, and that have evocative and interesting artwork.

I’ve been exploring smaller zines and one category within role playing games that I really enjoy is solo games. Mostly these take the form of a journaling experience where you pretend to be the character and react to different random elements. Some of them are less games than meditation exercises and journaling prompts.

I’ve had the opportunity to start amassing quite a collection of them on itch.io after supporting some social justice bundles, and I thought it would be fun to share reviews of the games. But why would you want to play a “game” like this in the first place? Here are five reasons to try solo games!

You’re New to Role Playing Games and Want to See What It’s All About

Although solo RPGs often don’t have the same structure and mechanics of games like D&D, a lot of people have told me what actually makes them nervous about RPGs is the role play. It’s the improv and having to be a character. If this is the part that concerns you, solo games let you learn to inhabit a character, come up with creative ideas, and get a feel for world building without the social pressure of a bigger group. And also there’s less time commitment–only what you want to give to it.

You Need Some Inspiration

I like to use solo RPGs to inspire my poetry. I think of it a lot like writing prompts that let me experiment with new ideas and forms of expression. But solo RPGs can be used to inspire all sorts of creative expression. You can use it for fiction and writing inspiration, but also for visual arts to explore characters, settings, or feelings. You can let it inspire costuming for an event, reorganization of your home, or let it inspire some self-care. Whatever your medium and preferred form of expression, role play allows you to try out different ideas and decisions in a low-stakes way while providing enough structure to encourage creativity.

You Want a Chance to Journal and Reflect

Expanding on the self-care and self-awareness idea, solo RPGs allow you to consciously take time to write and reflect. Use your character to explore a problem you’re having with a friend–from the friend’s point of view. Use a world that is complex and harsh to discover your own resilience. Or use a cozy setting to give yourself a moment of calm and an opportunity to process. I really think role play can be a great way to get to know yourself and the journaling focus of most of the solo games really brings that home.

I would advise you to be really gentle with yourself though–journaling is an opportunity for growth and recognition–but can also be a lot to deal with emotionally. Check in with yourself as you play. In group sessions we talk about what makes people uncomfortable–what are lines not to cross. Solo play should be treated the same way.

Your Regular Group is Taking Too Long to Meet Between Sessions

Maybe you already play a TTRPG with a group, but life is busy and it’s hard to coordinate people’s schedules. Solo games let you role play between sessions, letting you be creative and further develop your improvisational skills. And since you can role play as whatever character you like, it can also be a way to explore the character you play regularly.

You Love Stories and Want to Create Your Own

Playing games is all about interacting with a story and an environment. If you’re a reader of this blog, it’s probably because you like stories. Books and films are great, but the story is already written and you’re inhabiting it. Games allow you a little more agency. While video games often require a degree of hand-eye coordination and specific literacies to play (ones which I sorely lack), RPGs allow you to explore new worlds, ideas, and characters with few materials and skills that readers already have–they are interactive stories but you don’t have to start writing from scratch.

Do you play RPGs? If so, what do you enjoy about them? If not, is there something that makes you hesitant to start playing?

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Books that Have Inspired Me to Do Something


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature from The Broke and the Bookish.

This week’s topic is all about the things you’ve been inspired to do after reading a book, like climb a mountain or tell the truth. It’s interesting to see how reading really does impact our lives and how it changes or aspires to change us. A lot of the time I’ve been encouraged NOT to do something a protagonist has done–learning through their trials and mishaps, but here are ten books that have inspired me in a more positive way.

  • The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank inspired me to keep a diary. I’ve kept one (with more or less success) since high school. Keeping a journal has taught me the importance of writing in keeping my thoughts straight. I’ve read out parts of my diary too, which makes me conscious about privacy–once you write something down, it exists, no matter how personal it is. Even while writing the diary, Anne was conscious that it could be published and actually edited a lot of it.
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling encouraged me to believe in magic. I was definitely one of those kids awaiting an acceptance letter for my magical education.
  • Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing drove my love of adaptation and encouraged me to write adaptations, which I still love doing.
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde nurtured a longing to get my portrait painted from life in oils. You’d think the book would have the opposite effect, but I hope I wouldn’t be so foolish as to make wishes or bargains with a piece of art.
  • Kevin Henkes’ Julius, the Baby of the World made me want to be a better older sister. In fact, I think that was probably the whole idea behind reading it to me…
  • Shadow Spinner by Susan Fletcher inspired me to not only tell great stories, but to listen for them in other people and find ways to make them my own. This is another great book to read if you’re into Renee Ahdieh’s books right now.
  • The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker has made me want to make strudel from scratch in the worst way. I’ve always been really intimidated by that recipe, but I’m going to try it out and share my results with you.
  • Chasing the Rose by Andrea di Robilant deepened my desire to go on a seemingly frivolous quest that would make a real impact on my life. I’m still working on this one.
  • Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand encouraged me to see the power in words and poetry and inspired me to offer custom love letters on my Etsy site, which are each hand crafted for their recipient based on the information I receive from the giver when they fill out my questionnaire. I love writing these letters, which I hope allow people to express their feelings in a new way.
  • L. Frank Baum’s The Emerald City of Oz was given to me as a goodbye present by my second grade teacher. This is a book that has taught me many things, but it gave me courage to start school in a new place with new people (something that wasn’t always easy for me), and it showed me how importance books were as objects–that they held wisdom and reassurance simply by being books. I love books, and so naturally I give them as gifts, but I think it was this book that showed me that could have great meaning.


Books have been extraordinarily important in my life–and a good book always inspires me to learn more and look at the world with a critical eye. How have you been inspired by your (or your library’s) bookshelf? Let me know in the comments.

A NaNoWriMo Retrospective

So I’m now coming down off the NaNoWriMo writing high, and I must say that it is nice to shower and get dressed before noon or leave the house without feeling like the world is ending, but in a way it’s bittersweet too. It’s so easy to fall back into not-writing. Writing comes naturally, but not writing does too, and after a month of writing 2/3 of a novel by hand, I want a little break. So I’ve cleaned my apartment. I’ve scheduled some blog posts. I’ve made a dinner that took more than half an hour to come to fruition. And it’s very nice. But it’s also nice to write for 8 hours a day, to have an almost complete first draft of a book. I’m excited for next year. I might have to do drafts like this more than once a year and then spend the rest of the year editing. I thrive under deadlines.

It’s definitely an intimidating prospect, 50,000 words in a month, but I’m good with goals. Once I decided to participate in NaNoWriMo, I had no question about my ability to meet the deadline. I was determined to meet it, and I did–that’s just how I am. But it is a huge prospect, and most people are not able to spend so much time in their pursuit of it. I want to raise a glass (filled with the liquid of your choice) to anyone who participated, whether you won or not. In my opinion, you won if you chose to put writing first, if you put time and energy into what had previously been just a passing fancy, if you worked hard developing your story and your skills. You are amazing!

I think one of the most powerful lessons to take away from NaNoWriMo is the power of persistence. To meet this word count, you have to develop a forward momentum. If you look backward, you’ll be discouraged, you’ll strip away words instead of building them up. The best thing is to use that old improv adage “yes, and” because you’re looking for a number, a high number, of words. This is not the time for logic, for tight phrasing, or for editing. This is about word vomit. You’ll discover new things that are better than what you’d written before, and you have to make a note and move on. The momentum is essential, but it’s the most difficult part.

November might be over, but it’s not too late to make writing a priority. The new year is right around the corner and it’s time to make a writing resolution. If you start in December, think how much easier it’ll be to carry that momentum into the new year! My resolution is to have two novels ready to attract elusive agents by the middle of next year. What’s yours?

NaNoWriMo–or How November Might Kill Me

My trusty new journal says ‘She believed she could, so she did.’ Perfect for NaNoWriMo.

So you may have noticed that it’s been a little quieter than usual around here. That’s because I’m participating in my first ever NaNoWriMo (like so many things, it’s taken me a long time to jump on the bandwagon).

I’m no stranger to writing sprints, as on a good writing day I’ve been known to put in at least ten pages in three hours. But then I call it a day. I’m too easy on myself, probably because I’m worried that I’ll run out of ideas if I write them down too quickly, which so far hasn’t happened, but you never know. So my challenge doesn’t just involve finishing 50,000 words in a month, which is a mighty challenge in and of itself, but it’s also about finding time to write every day and for longer periods of time.

Therefore, I’m trying something new. I’m writing all 50,000 pages of my first draft on my new science fiction book in a notebook. Yes, by hand. And yes, my hand starts to hurt around five pages out of the seven to eight I’ve challenged myself to write every day. And yes, I could finish the challenge a lot faster if I just typed it out. But I’m enjoying the process of not getting it over with quickly. Since I’m lucky enough to be able to devote my whole day to writing, that’s what I’m trying to do. Today it took me six hours to write all eight pages, but those were eight pages I really had to think about. Every sentence has to be considered before it goes down onto the paper. There might be fewer of them, but something tells me they’re going to need less editing.

Unlike my last book, I’ve started this one with a much rougher idea of where it’s going, so every page is an exploration for me, and I get to see where it’s taking me instead of trying to march my characters from point A to point B. It’s sort of freeing. I have a rough idea of where I’m headed, but no real idea of how I’m going to get there. I love it. I love this whole process. I might start writing all my novels in one month sprints.

I’ll be posting my daily word count on twitter, so if you’re interested in how I’m proceeding be sure to follow me. If you want more details about my book, let me know and I’ll write something up. I’m going to try and keep up with my blogging, but if it gets quiet over here, you know what I’m doing.

Anyone else participating in NanNoWriMo this month? Anyone else like me and insanely trying to write their book by hand? Let me know how you’re doing and what kind of book you’re writing in the comments.


Julia Child Quote

Since Mondays are all about calligraphy, paper, and crafts, I thought I’d start off with a post on why I do calligraphy, how I got started, and how I continue to practice.

I’ve always been interested in calligraphy because it was like writing and drawing. When I was younger, I thought it was something that needed to be done with a specially shaped italic pen. At that point, my experience was limited to the colorful markers that make up children’s calligraphy kits. I had nice handwriting, and so my calligraphy looked pretty decent–though it was soon given up in favor of different artistic pursuits.

Oscar Wilde Quote

More recently, I asked for a calligraphy pen or kit for Hannukah. My parents got me a calligraphy fountain pen with a variety of italic nibs. This held my interest for longer, but I found the fountain pen to be a bit troublesome and I really wanted my work to look like the pointed pen calligraphy which was becoming popular. You really can’t achieve those results with an italic fountain pen.

Some online investigation after I graduated college (and was supposed to be starting my novel), I found a site called Skillshare, which offered (and still offers) some online calligraphy courses. I enrolled in a class, and bought my first pointed pen. The rest, as they say, is history.

My first time markings with a pointed pen.
My first time markings with a pointed pen.

I took the class (though I still haven’t uploaded my class project–I probably should do that) and another class (ditto), and then I did my first real project. Of course, I didn’t really take pictures of it, because that would have been way too smart. Nevertheless, doing the envelopes for my friends wedding really showed me how much I love doing calligraphy. You can see what the font I created for her developed into on my Etsy site here.

I started my Etsy site not long after to continue developing my craft and to share my love of handwritten things with others. It also helps me to fund my writing (save the starving artists! Though my family and my Paul do a great job of feeding me) and gives me another creative outlet.

Practicing my name in different styles.
Practicing my name in different styles.

Pointed pen calligraphy is really more like drawing or even painting than like regular writing. I happen to be left-handed, and that makes it even more challenging. When everything goes smoothly, the ink is the right consistency, the nib is the proper one for the font and the paper, the motions are fluid and I slip into a kind of flow state. But that doesn’t always happen, and sometimes it’s a struggle to put pen to paper because things are constantly going haywire. There are some days you have to just step away because nothing is going right.

Victor Hugo Quote

But the next day everything seems to make more sense. It really is a craft–one that gets better with practice. It helps encourage me not to take the world and my work too seriously. And even though I see all the little imperfections and inconsistencies, it really does look quite lovely. Sometimes it’s hard to look at these early samples of my work, but it’s always good to know where you’ve come from and to continue to experiment and practice.


If you’re interested in learning calligraphy, I recommend finding a class (either online or in a classroom). It won’t be perfect at first, not even close, but it gets better with practice. And if you’d rather leave the calligraphy to those of us crazy enough to do it, you can indulge your love of all things handwritten on my Etsy site (or troll around Pinterest–that always works for me).

Is there an art form you’ve always been fascinated by? What was it and did you pursue it?