Story Cubes

Robert Mills

I have a very on/off relationship with writing even though I love it. The thought of sitting down to write something results in procrastination. If I have to write something then my house is spotlessly clean. The correlation between the two is no coincidence. When I do finally sit down to write, usually because my deadline is by now looming, I enjoy every second and tell myself that next time I will get straight into it and not faff about. Then the cycle continues.

In my quest to find out why I have fallen into this frustrating routine it became clear that the task at hand can be intimidating. If I am writing for a well known blog, a magazine, or for a client, I put pressure on myself, I worry about it not being interesting or good enough for the audience. This anxiety stops me writing until I have to. It’s ridiculous to be so afraid of something I love so much.

I think I’ve found the answer, for me at least. I say found, I mean given as it was my birthday last week (no, I didn’t get your card) and one of my presents was a little box of inspiration, a box of Rory’s Story Cubes.

Story Cubes are described as: 9 cubes, 54 images, over 10 million combinations and infinite storytelling possibilities.

It’s pretty simple. The box contains 9 cubes and every side has a different image on. You roll all 9 and then have to tell a story to connect the images in whatever order you choose. I have started to use them when I need to write and my productivity has increased. At first I drafted the stories in my head but I have started to write little ones down too. It gets me into the writing mode without too much effort. The stories are crap of course but it breaks down that barrier between me thinking about writing and actually writing.

There are other ways to play too and a few sets available which means you can combine them and tell even bigger and better stories. There are some interesting stories on the Story Cubes blog about how others are using their cubes, from ice breakers and engaging children to life coaching.

Another interesting post I spotted on their blog is about why they use 9 cubes. The answer includes this:

The nine cubes can be easily divided into three groups of three. A basic narrative structure has three parts, a beginning, middle and end, so we use three cubes for each part of a story.

Nice. Hopefully using the cubes won’t mean that any serious articles I write about tone of voice or understanding your audience will reference snakes on a quest to capture the treasure from the monkey king. Although that would be fun. They’ve certainly helped me get writing though and give a gentle poke to my increasingly lazy imagination. From now on when I need to be inspired or  to get the pump primed, I’ll get rolling.