This post follows on directly from last time (Making a Living #1).
The third question in that list was:
3- How do you manage to keep productive and consistent on releasing new content? Do you set goals for yourself, or do you manage your time and production some other way?
Following on from there was a supplement question of “what’s your daily routine like“?
I will preface this with saying that I live on a farm. Most people will not have to worry about feeding livestock, or checking fences. When I get a problem I want work through, I will tend to go for a ride on a horse and let the problem work itself out.
My daily routine looks something like this.
First thing, check my stats. I want to see sales notification emails. I want check my social media following/followers and website traffic stats.
Why? Because I am checking that nothing is broken. I know roughly what I expect to earn each day. I know my peak days and my quiet days. If the sales notifications stopped coming it could mean that a site is down.
When I get to my desk, I start with research. This could be reading a source book, checking SRD documents. I can also mine the DriveThruRPG website for data. Some of this will be researching what books to work on in future, some will be about improving my business practices.
Why? Because if I learn something actionable, I have time to implement it straight away. Doing research later in the day may mean that I forget a key point or idea over night.
Late morning I do playtesting. This normally takes me up to lunchtime.
I can now immediately implement any revisions following the playtesting.
Early afternoon, I start writing. I will continue writing until I stop for dinner.
I normally do some more work in the evenings. This is probably the most important part of my day, and the bit where (in my opinion) many indie games people fall down. I devote an hour to marketing. Most games people don’t like marketing. I have an hour block for it. I do different things on different days, but every day I do something that falls under the heading of marketing.
If I do anything else in the evening, it will be more writing, carrying on from the afternoon. About 9pm I try and turn the PC off and I will then do more reading. This will be either rulebooks or setting books.
That is the basic structure of the day.
Mondays is my big product release day. It also means sending out emails through the blog contact list with readers loyalty discounts and using my DriveThruRPG mailing list.
Tuesday is a regular writing day. I tend not to do anything exceptional on Tuesdays, but I do do more with the animals on the farm. Tuesday then becomes problem solving day because mucking about with horses is a great way to solve writing problems.
Wednesday is video blog day. Don’t ask me why this is a Wednesday activity. I think I was planning to do it on Friday, but I got so nervous about it looming up at the end of the week that went ahead early. Now I am settled in to it being Wednesday.
Thursday is normally ‘little project day’. I try and do something that is completely self contained on a Thursday. This could be a small adventure, or a supplement, or an experiment. One week it was creating maps, another it was making a micro RPG. This serves as a mental change from the bigger projects, and if the result is worthwhile, it gives me a mid week product release. These will tend to be released on Itch.io rather than DriveThruRPG.
Friday is another writing day but with a focus on adventures. If Thursday’s mini project has potential, but didn’t not get finished, then I will try and finish it on Firday. Otherwise, I focus on the the main project.
Saturday and Sunday, these are my main playtesting days. Sunday can turn into a page layout day.#
It may sound like I am at my computer all day and all evening. This is not exactly accurate. My wife is also a blogger and a keen knitter. She can somehow knit and watch television. I can be working on a laptop while she is knitting. While I am doing the most creative parts I can type them up just as easily while sat together in an evening, as I can at my desk.
I do have a plan.
Technically, this plan extends four years into the future, but anything more than about 3 weeks from now is a bit vague and open to negotiation. I am my own manager, I can swap titles into the production queue or swap others out as and when I want.
More than the planned books, I have goals. These are measured in hard numbers. I know when I hit a goal. In a previous career we used SMART targets.
What that means is that I know exactly what I want to achieve (Specific), how I am going to know when I have achieved it (Measurable), it is based upon past performance (Achievable), I believe I have everything in place to do this (Realistic) and I have a date in early 2021 when I want to hit this first major goal (Timed).
My day is filled with other SMART targets. The mini projects on Thursdays and Fridays are SMART. They are very specific and chosen to fit into the allotted time. I would not try and write a major supplement on a Thursday afternoon, but a two page adventure is a realistic goal.
Because I set goals, and achieve goals, each achievement gives me a nice feeling and that motivates me on.
This goal setting and achieving I think is one of the most important skills for an indie writing, in any sphere.
I know that I cannot focus on any one task for a long periods. I just cannot do it. So I set up my day to allow me to hop from task to task. You have to know what works for you and then play to your strengths.
So, referring back to the original question, yes I set goals, many goals, on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly time span, but I also manage my time and production in a way that is unique to me.
Possibly the second most important block of time spend, is that hour of marketing each day.
In the next of these making a living posts, I will share some of what I do for marketing.