Freelancing has been an interesting new challenge for me in the game design world. I’ve been writing a lot of stretch goals for Kickstarters, working on small games for a few various projects, and finishing up some really big designs I’ve been working on forever. I’m not really new to the concept of doing work on the side of my full time gig. Jewelry design has always been a side venture for me, and my weekends used to be occupied with craft shows and studio hours (and still are, though in less frequency). Writing has a different workflow than visual art does though, and I’m slowly learning what that looks like.
I have three jobs right now: full time admissions work, jewelry design, and game design. Where do I fit in my writing and game design time?
1. Weekend Work Extravaganza
On Saturday and Sunday, if I’m in town and I don’t have committed plans, I try to set aside my afternoons for writing and game design. If I set aside 4-5 hours in my brain, I can usually get 1-3 hours of good work time out of that. KEY TO THIS STRATEGY is also scheduling fun time. Weekend time needs to be relaxation too! If I schedule morning hiking or brunch dates, an afternoon coffee break with a friend, or an evening party, my brain will focus on that work time as work and not get distracted by other missed fun times.
I’m also really lucky in that I have my space to myself, no other family, boyfriend, or kids around to distract me!
2. WORK PARTIES
Hannah Shaffer has converted me to a work partier. I always work better with other people in a studio setting when making visual art, but I hadn’t figured out how to write with other people in the room intentionally. Having online hangouts with groups, all of us muting our microphones for about an hour and a half, and focusing intently for that time really does wonders for me. Scheduling a party keeps me committed too.
3. Write in different ways
I don’t mean styles. I mean, change what you’re writing in. I usually write in Word or Google Docs, so switching over to writing in my Hobinichi planner or in my Ipad when I’m flying really influences my ability to think differently about my work. I also recently wrote a game starting with the visual design first in Indesign. It was kinda like writing backwards, and it really worked for my visual art brain to start there first, add the rules second. Even writing stuff out in G+ posts or on twitter helps jog my brain sometimes.
I’m doing a lot of different things right now, and I’m learning a lot from them. Keeping in the practice of writing and designing, getting in the groove, helps my writing overall. If I can write a thing here or there, or take up a project about this thing, I’m slowly amassing skills that will help me in the long run.
5. Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines
This is my biggest secret motivator. It’s easy when I’m working for someone else, cause they’ll set the deadline for me. BUT if I’m working for myself and producing my own content, this is a little harder. I’ll usually set up arbitrary deadlines so that I can get myself going, and get some kind of finished draft up and running. Common arbitrary deadlines are: game conventions, house cons, game nights with friends, approaching holiday, game contests or competitions, or just a one week turnaround. I often find the sooner I jump on an idea, the more likely I am to make something and complete it. Even if that’s just getting down a bullet point outline, I can go from there.
So that’s some of my recent freelance game design work habits! Are yours similar? Any tricks you use to motivate yourself and get stuff done? Good luck with your design projects!