I have a friend who's interested in getting into the RPG business; he's quite young, and wants some advice about how best to get started. In talking things out with him, I realized something about myself. Here's my realization:

My Six Griffons Haunt adventure for Pathfinder (which is retooled as Ghosts of Sparwell Lodge in Pathfinder Second Edition) isn't very good. I mean, it's totally playable and has interesting characters and such, but it's still not very good.

Why? Because nothing you write when you're starting out is very good. When you're starting, you have a ton of enthusiasm and a billion great ideas, but you don't know how to translate that into quality. You need to get lots and lots and lots of writing experience to leverage your enthusiasm into quality. By the time you have this experience, you'll look back on your earlier work and realize that, based on your current skills, your old stuff isn't very good. Maybe a little childish. Sure, it's earnest, and you probably have a soft spot in your heart for it, but you'll know you can do lots better. Because you have done lots better in the intervening years.

This isn't to say that freshman or sophomore work can't sell, or won't be rated highly, or anything like that. That enthusiasm can really shine! When it's coupled with good presentation and technical correctness, it can earn lots of accolades. Some people earn RPG awards on their first-ever labor-of-love products that speak to the audience. Six Griffons Haunt got five-star reviews.

If you want to make a career out of RPG writing, you need to know that you'll have to put out stuff that isn't very good for a while before you start producing quality on a consistent basis (even then, you won't be producing your best work every time, frankly). Consistent quality takes effort and time, and the sooner you get started on it, the sooner you'll get to the place where you can look back and see how high you've climbed. That's the key advice I had for my friend looking to get into this industry: start writing, get your inevitable not-so-good stuff out of your system, and know that you'll get better the longer you do it.

Write, write, write.

I can't see into the future, but I can envision my trajectory of continual improvement. I expect to someday look back on the work I'm doing today and think, "oh, that's not great, I'm glad I kept at it and learned to be better." I can already see this a little bit; two Pathfinder Second Edition adventures I've written already have me thinking, "Remember when I used to include oozes in adventures that had pregenerated characters that couldn't effectively fight oozes? Man, that was amateurish."

But back to Six Griffons Haunt. If presented with it as a turnover today, now that I'm a professional RPG developer, I'd probably have to rework huge chunks of it (like the timing issues of the narrative, which can stall out; better telegraphing the final villain; and setting up the secret powerful helper better). Or maybe I'd just jettison it. I don't mind that that's my opinion today; that adventure is really old. It was my first Run Amok Games product back in 2011, but it had a life even before that: I revised and expanded it from an adventure I wrote from the Living Greyhawk campaign back in 2002. It's old enough to vote. 

If you're starting off and you think your stuff isn't very good, keep at it. You'll get there.

If you're starting off and you think your stuff is good, you're probably wrong, but you won't know it for a while. That's fine. Keep at it. You'll get there.