This is my New Year resolutions post.
Writing is a lonely business. Writing requires a lot of self-belief, and a lot of discipline, and some times you run out of both, and that’s OK.
However… I don’t believe I have run out of either. What I have done so far is procrastinate, lose track of the passing weeks, fail to write a proper outline (as opposed to the stacks of index cards I have scattered around the office) and generally fool myself that it’s OK that I haven’t written as much as I would have liked–I’ve been tired, or ill, or travelling a lot for work so all of that has to take precedence over creative work that I do alone in my office after I finish the day job.
Well, it’s not OK, really. I’d like to finish this project, and the next, and the next. Work will only get harder this year.
Now, in my day job, I set goals, milestones, have weekly meetings and reminders. Why am I not doing the same thing for this project? Probably because somewhere in my brain I’ve told myself this is not work, this is creative stuff, this is the antithesis of order and discipline and knuckling down–which is plainly silly, but I’m only human.
So, applying a bit of day-job logic, this should be simple.
1. Set weekly milestones but also weekly progress reports. Compare the progress reports to the milestones, and either up the pace or adjust the milestones to something more realistic, depending on the end goals.
2. Have a proper project plan with a timeline.
3. GET ON WITH IT
Anyway… the good news is that I’m not horrifically blocked, staring at a blank sheet of paper on my typewriter*, I’ve just been my usual lazy self. There is an outline with chapter headings, there is content, there is an actual game. The goal was to have the first draft written by the end of this year, but two week’s slippage is probably tolerable.
The other good news is the difference between writing games instead of fiction; the latter really is solitary, but at least games have a social feedback mechanism built in with playtesting. That’s starting up again in the new year now we have new sofas and guests aren’t forced to sit on spikes.
I’m not sure how I’ll announce my progress. I’ll think of something. I know at least one author who announced his current word count via twitter, although that’s not really my thing. Otherwise the new years resolutions are to have a plan and stick to it, run the game, and read and write daily (as usual).
The two hardest parts of design and writing I’m finding at the moment are (i) what’s my system and (ii) what’s my setting. This may sound absurd since game is basically system + setting, so I’ll elaborate. I have a set of procedures for world building, I have an idea of how players come together to play, and I have an idea of the setting I would like to run in. I haven’t decided on mechanism for randomisation (or if that’s even necessary; I’m in favour of a Karma/Drama approach a la Everway or Amber). As for the world, the game is about players developing and owning the world, so being prescriptive on the game world is sort of contrary to the design goals. But it’s fine. It’s just another decision.
Happy new year!
* Typewriters are awesome. They go click-clack. They don’t get the internet. They’re not so good for making blog posts, though.