If you’ve never heard of “Into the Wild,” you might want to watch it. TL;DR version is that a dude went out and lived and died alone in the wilderness of Alaska.
His supposed final words, written, are “Happiness only real when shared.”
As DMs, we tend to do a lot of planning in the background that our players aren’t privy to. To borrow a page from Sly Flourish, why prepare something your players never see?
Sure, you know all about the history of the third tribe into the woods on the east of the village. But if your players never encounter that … why?
For your own pleasure and benefit? Okay. But it’s not preparing for your D&D game. It’s writing a story for yourself. Nothing wrong with that, but as far as we’re concerned, it’s completely irrelevant to the game.
Your preparation, your story ideas, are only real if you share them with the players. If they never meet Jeffnifer the Barber, then Jeffnifer the Barber doesn’t exist in that world. Once they do meet Jeffnifer, only then is Jeffnifer real.
Spend your prep time working on things that your players will see, things that will make the game – and the story – more real.
Now get out there and tell a story (and if you need one to tell, check out my work on DMsGuild)!