I'm back from vacation! I hosted a family reunion over the week of the 4th of July at my house. And I had an adventure milestone (of about 17,000 words) due the following Monday: today. If I'd been more rigorously scheduled, I would have finished this milestone before my vacation. But I had fewer than 3,000 words together when my family all arrived. I had grant plans of working a few late nights during the reunion, but those opportunities, unsurprisingly, vanished. All I had time to do during the reunion was doodle some maps. My family left early Saturday morning, leaving me two days to finish my milestone.

And I did it! 15,000 words in two days. It's not a sustainable pace, but I got it done and submitted. In case you need to power through a similarly large project in a similarly short amount of time, here's what I did to make it possible.

I enumerated non-work obligations and prioritized them accordingly. I had a few things this weekend I wanted to be sure to get done--taking my kids to see the new Spiderman movie, going out to dinner with my wife, and going to church--and I was clear about what I was going to do with them and when. I deferred several tasks that could wait; we normally spend Saturday morning doing chores, but I let everyone know I wouldn't be doing mine until Monday and, no, they couldn't wait on their chores, either. My wife and I take turns running with our kids, and I asked my wife to take two turns in a row with them. My lawn looks unkempt. And so on. I also passed on a few fun things, like a barbecue at a friend's house. I let everyone know that I'd be in the office working if they needed me, but that I had a big project and preferred privacy.

I was prepared. I was not only working from a good outline that I'd lobbed back and forth with my developer a few times, but I'd consciously avoided the outline pitfalls I set forth in a prior blog post. My outline was very solid, and I was confident I could rely on it. When it came to writing load-bearing scenes (such as a tricky interaction with an NPC), I knew what I needed to accomplish, broke it into steps in my mind, and could tackle those steps as a wrote.

I made to good maps. Remember how I said I'd only been able to doodle some maps? My first task was to take those maps and make not-quite-finished-but-better-than-doodles of them. I covered these maps with notes about where foes were found, key features of each room, and how the rooms related to each other. I also numbered them like a final map: area C1, C2, C3, and so on. I intentionally avoided the most complicated two maps of my adventure and focused on the three maps that were the most straightforward. This was hard for me--I knew I had to get 14,000 to 16,000 words out, and yet I spend my first four precious writing hours on Saturday not writing a single word of my adventure. But I had these detailed maps right at my side when doing all of my writing, and I ended up fully populating all three of them by midnight Sunday!

I deferred complex rules. Rules writing comes slower to me than other kinds of writing. I'm writing an adventure, not a rulebook, but even adventures have rules content in them and I knew they'd slow me down. When I hit a rules element, I either tackled it right away if it was straightforward (stats for an advanced version of a giant spider, for example) or just put in XXX for something to come later if it was going to bog me down (stats for a high-level wizard/rogue, for example). The only exception was for a few complex traps I wanted--since those served as the meat of the encounter, I had to dig in and design them completely. That was the slowest part of my writing, but they came out very satisfying.

I had struggles. Not everything was smooth. I had a tricky puzzle to create that I realized wouldn't work as I'd envisioned it, so I had to re-design it on the fly. I needed to jettison and redraw one of the maps when it was clear that the denizens should just pile on intruders in a way I didn't like. I had to learn the difference between mullions and muntins. In each case I laser-focused on the problem and what I'd need to accomplish it, broke it down into steps, and worked through it.

I'm looking ahead. I know I focused on the easiest half of my adventure for the milestone, and I certainly couldn't write the second half in two days. I need to be tackling the tricky stat blocks, more complicated maps, and more nuanced NPC interactions, as well as the introduction and conclusion (both of which I normally write only after I'm done with everything else). I'm now on track, and I'm resolved to stay on track for my final turnover!