I'm Late, I'm Late


Every year I participate in the RPGaDay writing prompt event. It's fun; it lets me remember and gives me a chance to tell stories, share what I've learned and wax philosophically. It also forces me to write every day, and leaves me with a sense of real completion when I'm done.

And while I do it for myself, there are also a dozen or two people who read and enjoy them, which makes it an especially worthwhile way to spend the time.

That said, I have a few rules for myself as I write them:

I never start the essays before August 1st. The list of prompts comes out in July or earlier, but aside from getting a copy as prep for the event, I never start writing anything ahead of time. I thought this might make things easier, but I don't for two reasons.

  • Writing them in real time tends to keep them fresh, and make them "fun" rather than a chore I'm trying to accomplish.
  • Sometimes, events happen during the essays and things that are playing out in my world, or going on in my life have an effect on the outcome of the essay.
To that end, I also never look ahead at the next day's essay. I might notice, but I don't do any prep work or pre-writing. Usually, I don't even see the word for the next day until I sit down to write. (I made one exception this year for word "Meet", because I realized I had to write about friends met along the way, and started some lists and discussions the day before, so I could accurately recreate the list of people who have been part of Trinity over the years.)

I don't double-up or catch up. There are days that writing just doesn't occur because of life. Or because the essay doesn't come on the day I start to write it. Sometimes, too, the essay is closer to 2000 words than the normal 1000. (And by the way, I also never aim for a word count. I just do my best to bring the word of the day to life, and that seems to take about 1000 words.) But 2000 words is around 5-6 pages of double-spaced text--it's a lot of writing. So when essays go that long, they often get finished the second day.

When I don't finish an essay on a given day, I don't double up on the essays to get back on track, nor do I double up by putting two essays into one day. I did that a bit in 2019, and it really didn't work for me. I'd rather just be one day later, and not feel pressure to complete "on time."

I don't feel bound to interpret the word prompt in any particular way. "Tower", this year, became an essay on "sources of inspiration" because of all the cool "Tower" tarot cards I found. There needs to be a connection to the word, of course, and I do explain how I got there, but I feel no obligation to take the shortest path.

My final rule is meta: Have fun. I do this for fun, the freedom to express myself, the sense of accomplishment that I get from finishing essays that I am happy with, and especially for finishing the entire month of essays (which I hope to do for a third time of the six years I've done this.) But if it feels stressful or like work--I just don't do it, or I stop part way through the month.

That said, the art for this essay is the White Rabbit from Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. He was chosen because I'm a bit behind doing this exercise. I have 8 essays left to complete for 2020, and I'm having a blast, so I see no reason why I wouldn't finish this year. But they certainly won't be done by the August 31st official end of RPGaDay--and I'm fine with that. In fact, to mangle a famous line for my own use:

I'm late, I'm late, for an unimportant date. Plenty of time to say what I want, though I'm late, I'm late, I'm late.


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