As part of the break, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I can proceed with my responsibilities at work and as father,son, and husband and still do RPG work.
I’ve tried a lot of productivity systems and time mangement strategies. What I’m finding is the best way to manage that extra work is to manage your energy and enthusiasm. When energy and enthusiasm is high, I can do anything. I can work a 12 hour day at work, hang out with the family, and then write a few thousand words for a project.
When that enthusiasm dips, I can barely do anything. Everything is too much, and every task is a bit of a burden.
The secret I’ve found is that your enthusiasm is always going to dip. You can’t avoid it! If you were always on a high level (relative to yourself) of enthusiasm, you’d burn out pretty fast.
Fortunately you can replenish your enthusiasm. For me, I replenish enthusiasm by “shipping”. By shipping I mean I get tangible pieces of a project out to an audience. When possible, I get finished projects out there. When I have something going with a project, I try to get the parts out to the audience. I use my enthusiasm to elicit responses from other people. Even if the responses are “try again!” or “I’m not sure!” the fact that people are checking it out raises my enthusiasm and gets me ready to ship the next thing.
In this way I use enthusiasm to build the next thing that will give me enthusiasm to build the next thing.
What I haven’t done until recently is build a plan for it. It was always a pattern that manifested at random until I noticed it and started to shape it.
Some things I use for a baseline of building my enthusiasm. You’re reading one such activity right now. Blogging is a nice loop in that the more I do it, the more I’m shipping out my thoughts and practicing game design. The more I’m doing that, the more prepped I am to design more formally. The key for me is to frame it that way instead of “I have to blog today!” That should/have to/gotta phrasing is a mind-killer. When I find that phrasing I know that I need to think about the activity in another way.
I will build a larger loop with Five Fires. Once every week I’ll release something about the game and take feedback. It might be hyper small, or it might be huge. Either way, I’ll use my love for the project to create the kindling to keep this going. I might release on the blog or to a smaller group, but someone will see it!
The last thought I’ll share is that you can ship to a small crowd of people. Sometimes it is not productive to send something out to strangers or everyone you know. Sometimes it is better to make a small group of folks and release to them. The reasons for this may be privacy or simply sensibility, but take into account that “shipping” doesn’t have to be at large scale. It just needs to happen.