Rather than talk about the nuts and bolts of rules and adventure design, I'd like to take a step back and talk about freelancing for a bit: specifically, some thoughts around freelancing RPG work for another company. This is the second in a series of four blog posts on this topic. 

Once you’ve gotten your assignment, understood its scope, and signed (and returned) a contract, it’s time to dig in! But how?

Schedule Your Days. I’ve written before about how important it is to know your writing speed. I can get about 1,000 words in an evening, and 4,000 words if I devote a whole day. Those numbers are less (as much as halved) for rules-intensive work. Grab a calendar, note the days you absolutely can’t write, and plan how much work you’ll do when (if you run out of days to write before your turnover date, you weren’t reading my last blog post). Keep in mind those things that eat up days, like drawing maps—each map generally takes me a whole day to get right. You should absolutely schedule one or two days at the end of the process to proofread everything, as you’ll always catch more errors than you think. Stick to this schedule! It’s the best way to avoid a late turnover.

Let People Know You’re Writing. You should let people who tend to make assumptions on your time (that is, family and friends) that you’ve got a freelancing job. That not only lets you brag a bit, but it lets them know you might have to rebuff the occasional offer to spend a day shopping or hiking because you’ve got writing to do instead. Once you become a consistent freelancer, you probably don’t need to tell them—they understand that this is your job, and will hopefully respect the time you need for that.

Keep Gaming. The best way to test the things you’re writing is to keep playing. You might need to actively playtest whatever it is you’re working on, or you might just get some good casual thoughts from your gaming group about your writing task. You don’t necessarily need to be playing the system you’re writing for (although it really helps), as being part of an unfolding game is often enough to get good thoughts about narrative and rules flowing. Sometimes this advice seems contradictory—you might need to skip out on some gaming sessions to get your writing done—but don’t make that a habit. Stephen King opined that if you don’t read a lot, you don’t really have the tools to be a writer; I think that if you aren’t gaming, you don’t really have the tools to be an RPG writer. 

Most of all, do the writing! Stephen King has another great quote about getting the writing done: “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”