Do you keep a handwritten journal for your gameplays? I think it is a fundamental part of my routine as a game designer.
We use everyday a lot of different tools, each one with its subscription models and stuff. But nothing can substitute a journal. On a journal you are alone with your inner self. In a journal you can identify clearly your personality. If you don’t keep a journal is super hard to not become a follower of trends and methods you don’t fully understand.
Do it now! Start a Gameplay Journal.
For every game you play and every time you play it, write a new entry down. What should you write? Well, it’s your journal. I can say you what I write down. This work in my own case.
First of all, I describe in detail everything that I remember. I describe without giving any opinion. “I like this, I don’t like that” is not really important. The important thing is what did I felt in any occasion.
When I am speaking about a new mechanic that I can identify, I sketch also a flow of its rules and how that works. I do it quickly, I don’t have to double check it and pass it to a developer. So that it’s just a way to train my quickness, somehow. I felt that I complete tasks at my day job way faster since I do that.
Finally, I try to reason on design choices and its audience. I also try to stress my assumptions imagining possible risks for the design approaches I find.
When you write down with your bare hands the brain makes connections that are not possible to make with a computer monitor writing with a keyboard. Keep use pen and paper, you will never regret it!