4 Things Writers Can Learn From LARPers

Every Saturday a group of LARPers play at the main street park here in Cedar City. For those of you who don’t know what LARPing is, LARP stands for live action role play. There are different kinds of LARPers, but, from what I can gather, the group in our area meets up dressed in costumes with foam weapons and proceed to pummel each other in a game that is somewhat like chess.

Now, I’m not sure I’d ever get into LARPing, but every time I pass this group, I can’t help but smile.

Here’s why:

#1: They don’t seem to care what anyone thinks of them. Here they are, smacking each other with foam swords, arrows and staffs at Main Street Park. Anyone driving through town can see them. But they don’t give two hoots. They just keep on playing. I’m sure there are people in town who roll their eyes and think these LARPers are wasting their time. But guess what? Who cares!

#2: They’ve put a lot of effort into this hobby. They’re wearing tunics and flowing cloaks and ninja gear. They’ve made their own weapons and shields. And they work on battle strategies hoping they’ll overcome their enemies.

#3: They’re part of a community. They’re involved with other like-minded people. They support each other and form strong friendships.

#4: They’re having fun! This is their Thing. The Thing that makes them happy. The Thing that’s a part of who they are.

Writers need to be more like LARPers.

Here’s why.

#1. We’re writers! Say it loud. Say it proud. We like to hole up in a room with just our laptop for company (and maybe some fuzzy socks and peanut M&M’s) and immerse ourselves in a fascinating world of our creation. It’s the best! (I can’t say that without thinking of Nacho Libre) Sure, there might be people in our lives who roll their eyes and think we’re wasting our time. But guess what? Who cares!

#2. We need to put a lot of effort into this writing thing. Sure, we don’t need costumes or foam weapons. But we DO need to put the hours and the time and the work in. We can’t just write here and there and expect to come up with a brilliant story (I know. I’ve tried.). We need to devour great books so we can better learn how to tell great stories. And we need to come up with our own battle strategies with the hope that we’ll overcome our own enemies, slothfulness, procrastinating, distractions, and….the dreaded social media. We need to battle for time, energy, and focus in order to create the stories our hearts want and need to!

#3. Writers need a community. This writing gig can get a bit lonesome if you’re trying to do it all alone. We need other writers in our lives. We need people who get what we’re trying to do, who’ll dish out honest feedback to help us improve or dance a jig with us when we succeed.

#4: Have fun! This is your Thing. The Thing that’s a part of who you are. The Thing that makes you happy. (Of course, we all know writing isn’t all fun and games all the time. Like when you’re trying to plug loads of holes. Yep. That’s where I am now. Woopee.) But this is your Thing. Embrace it!

Do you find writing lessons in strange places, too? If so, I’d love to hear about them!


Erin Shakespear writes middle grade fantasy full of quirky creatures, magic, and strange adventures. With six kids, her days are full of quirky creatures, magic, and strange adventures, and…loads of diapers. She also likes to dabble at photography, sewing, jewelry-making, and pretending she’s a grand artist. She is the southern Utah coordinator for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

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