Saturday, 28 January 2017

Writing Goals...

In my previous post I reflected a little on the goals I had set out for myself in 2016. For the most part these goals revolved around various forms of playing games because, well, I like playing games, and my blog is dominated by posts about them.

Over the last few years I been working somewhat as a freelance writer (well, it's a hobby really, I work as a teacher during day-light hours). This work has all been in the games industry, with both Spartan Games and Modiphius Entertainment (those interested can see what exactly I have worked on, on my bibliography page).

I have always had a passion for game design and writing, I have tended to spend vast chunks of my time developing my own role-playing systems and settings, board games, writing fiction, and writing for various places online. After high school I studied professional writing and editing for a couple of years before going on to teaching, and my hard drive and many note books are full of jottings, from simple plot, scene or setting concepts, to game ideas, to variously 'finished' and (predominantly) unfinished short story, novella and novel manuscripts.

The last few years it has been a pleasure, therefore, to be able to do this work in a more professional sense. To see things I helped work on, design or write make it to print. It is not a side-job that has earned me a lot of money, I might add, but I enjoy it, and it keeps me off the streets.

This post, as the title might suggest, is about my writing goals for 2017...

Spartan Games:

2016 ended with an explosion of activity for Spartan Games, and Dystopian Wars specifically. There is a new version of the rules underway, which I am not involved with at this stage, but there are also many models to stat up, 7 faction books to produce, as well as the Ice Maiden and Bronze Typhoon campaign books and the Decameron - a book of novellas and short stories.

Needless to say, everyone involved is full steam ahead. I am working currently on the faction books, the campaign books and the Decameron. While I will be doing some of the writing for all of those, my main role at the moment is to help project manage these 9 books from conception to production. Neil, myself and some of the core writers who work with Spartan (Franco Sammarco and Sam Bevan), have worked through a plan for how these stories will develop, and Neil and myself have worked through the outline and structure of the books so everyone knows how they will be stitched together and what pieces are required. I am excited. I'm hoping everyone will thoroughly enjoy the playing through the campaign books; and the faction guides and Decameron will help develop the background of Dystopian Wars, including some fun things which reveal a little more about the how and why of this alternate 1800s setting...

Modiphius Entertainment:

Over the last year and a bit I have been doing some free lance work for Modiphius Entertainment. I worked as an editor on the Achtung! Cthulhu Miniatures Game, but my main projects have been for the upcoming Infinity Role Playing Game. More recently I have also finished a little writing for the upcoming Star Trek Adventures Role Playing Game. I have absolutely loved working on these games, the opportunity to delve in and write background and setting material is something I enjoy immensely.

Infinity: The Role Playing Game is based on the setting of the very successful miniatures game from Corvus Belli. Those who have followed my blog may recall this is a game I have played and enjoyed, and therefore writing some of the setting chapters for the core rule book has been a real pleasure. I am currently working on an adventure, and will have more to do as Wave 2 develops. It should be a busy year for Infinity!

I have only recently completed my first assignment for Star Trek Adventures, and again, this has been something I have thoroughly loved. Just the potential to tell my wife that staying up and watching Star Trek is 'research' is enough, but the game system is looking really good and of course the setting is classic science fiction, so writing for it is something I have had a lot of fun with. I am looking forward to the opportunity to do more in the coming year.

Castle by Moonlight:

My blogging goal for 2017 is roughly the same as what I had for 2016. If I can keep up around two posts a month, I'll be happy. Last year I managed an average of three posts a month, but I'll keep the goal at two. I know some months when everything else is busy, I may not hit that target, and other months when things are more quiet (or the mood takes me), I'll manage more. Two a month gives me a goal to work toward without feeling like I'm placing too much pressure on myself. As per usual my blog will remain predominantly about games and gaming, with the occasional book review or other piece of miscellany thrown in.

Writing for pleasure...

[insert picture of a majestic landscape or an inspirational quote here]

Much of the work I have completed, in regards to writing, over the last couple of years has been a form of report (as on this blog), a form of technical writing (rules, scenarios), or has been copy editing. It has been a nice break away from the norm to be writing background material for the Infinity role playing game and the occasional piece of fiction for Spartan Games. One of the things I want to make sure I set aside time for in 2017 is to write more fiction of my own. I have a broad collection of narratives, from short stories through to novels, in various stages of completion; and the beginnings of plans or the seeds of ideas for many more.

I want make the time to get back to writing my own stories in my own settings. I think the way to do this is to try and set aside at least one night a week (I'll start with one and see how it goes), where my sole focus is to work on something of my own. Of course, it really should be more than this, but with work to complete for Spartan and Modiphius, one night will suffice for now.

I expect this goal will be quite hard to maintain, not only am I a world class procrastinator, never doing today what I can put off for tomorrow, but when my other freelance projects get busy, they can be quite consuming. Writing is a creative act, and distraction, emotional state, weariness and many other factors can all impact a person's ability to 'get it done'. The act of writing itself can feel like it is just flowing, the words tumbling onto the page, but sometimes they just don't. Additionally, one must often stop for a period to research things like common Sicilian surnames, or how the ionosphere can interfere with radio signals, or the structure of the United Nations Military Council... because anyone who writes will admit to having an insanely random set of browser searches in their history. Research can and usually does eat hours, and, of course, there is a limit to a person's available work time, especially when they have a day job as well. When high levels of research are required, whether for a freelance project or a personal one, it can feel like a lot of time has been spent for very little progress. But this is just a part of the process, of course.

Regardless, whatever the excuses, whatever the distractions, I really want to push myself to spend a night a week working on my own projects. It will be interesting to see how I go.

So that about sums up my writing goals for 2017. The other key factor in all of this is making sure I don't take on so much that I burn myself out, or that it then impacts negatively on the time I have with my family, or my day job. It will be interesting to see how things develop. I think 2017 will be a bumper year, with much to do for Dystopian Wars, the Infinity RPG and hopefully the Star Trek RPG. Add in the time I want to spend on my own projects, and I think I will be kept reasonably busy throughout 2017. Writing is something I love, so I find the process a curious mix of stressful (especially around deadlines) and cathartic. I'm hoping 2017 is a year in which I find a solid rhythm to work to: where I can manage my freelance work as well as make progress on my own projects. We shall see!

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