It's been about a month since my last blog update, which is a long time for me to be going silent these days. I've picked up a time-intensive opportunity outside of the RPG space that I knew was coming yet still arrived sooner than I'd expected. So I've been working hard on wrapping up my outstanding freelance projects so I can focus on that.

Which means I have some thoughts about wrapping up outstanding freelance projects.

First, it's useful to take an occasional break to avoid burnout; I took a little break for a few months in early 2020 (right in time to slide into the pandemic, as it turns out), and this break I'm heading into looks to be a bit longer in scope. Winding down current projects isn't new for me, and it's something I think everyone should evaluate.

I'm privileged in this regard, because I've pushed so hard in late 2020 and early 2021 that my 2021 freelance income already exceeds my 2020 freelance income. So I can coast for a bit. I know not everyone can do that.

But as I've been wrapping up projects (with the one sent in today, I have only 3 left to do!), here's what I've been keeping in mind:

Organize Projects by Type and Synergy, Not Deadlines. It's important to make sure your head is in the right space for your projects, and switching gears a lot can throw that off. I have a couple of Pathfinder projects and a couple of Starfinder projects, and they stagger in due dates. But I've been working hard to get the Pathfinder projects finished as one block together, then the Starfinder ones. That keeps my head in the system for a bit longer, and makes for less mental gear-switching. No matter whether you're taking a break because of a life change, to jump on a new non-RPG opportunity, or to avoid burnout, when you're winding down you're in a place where you can't devote your full creative genius. So take shortcuts like this. Maybe some of the things you turn over will end up being quite a bit early; that's just fine. Some might end up being a bit late--work with your developer on that, and avoid it if you can, as always.

Be Honest with Time. It's tempting to think you can blast through your remaining projects in a weekend--I've over-considered my own productivity several times in the last month. But this is the time to keep to a consistent writing pace, with word counts and benchmarks you know you can meet every day. Maybe even set them a little lower than you usually do. Then stick to that schedule. If the numbers say it's going to take longer than you want to wind down, accept it and put in the time--rushing an exit won't do you any favors.

Clean as You Go. I'm pretty good about cleaning up from my projects as I finish them: filing away hand-drawn maps, putting the relevant books back on the shelves, and so on. But in this flurry to finish lots of things, I've notice I tend to leave stuff out more often, and not file things as diligently as I should. I've spent much of today breaking that bad habit, and putting things away just as I usually would. It's really helped me see how little I've got left to complete, which makes that pending break seem even closer. That's a nice feeling.

Know What You're Taking a Break From. You might be thinking about a short break from writing, but look over all you do as part of that and consider whether you'll be giving any of the rest of it up. Will you also be taking a break from GMing games, or playing in them? Going to conventions? Doodling fan art? Keeping up a blog? Think about what you need to pull back from to recharge and draw some boundaries around them. I'm pulling back from writing and blogging, but I will be keeping up my usual gaming with friends, and you'll still see me at as many (virtual) cons as you did before.

Alert the People You Work for the Most. No one should be counting on your time and effort without having you under a contract, but there might be people who know you're always there to pick up a few monsters, a short scenario, or something else they need. It might be best to let these people know that you're taking a break. This is not just to let them know you're going to have to pass the next time they 

Know that Developers Appreciate It. There's nothing unprofessional about turning down an assignment because you're on a break (although it is exceptionally unprofessional to fail to complete an assignment you agreed to in order to start your break early). We all know breaks are important and we'll still be here when you want to come back into it.

Exit Gracefully. I'm still doing my utmost to hit every turnover date and keep my word counts where they should be. I know I'll be back at the freelancing before too long, and I don't want to burn any bridges--I want people to be excited to give me work again when I come around asking for it later.

Some Engagement Will Remain, and It Will Help. Plenty of things you've written before taking a break are going to come out weeks or months later, while you're deep in your break. So you might have people excited to interact with things you've done when you feel well past them. Interacting with that can be fun, and it's own kind of recharging; it's fun to enjoy your work freely, without thinking about the deadline of the next project or three.

I'll be back to blogging soon enough, and I'll still have RPG thoughts ranging from the broad to the very, very specific. See you soon!