I was sitting in the sun at my usual coffee place, pondering on what the next issue of the Times was going to bring. And I realized that this would be my 30th article in as many months time.
Times have flown by, haven't they? I must have covered every subject imaginable; food, weapons, minigames, quests and their storylines, the economy, the economy again, the community, and even payment methods. And I remember almost every bit of feedback I've ever gotten too.
And it's helped. The process of creating an article has changed drastically since I started writing for the Tip.it Times. I used to just start typing about whatever popped in my head, and kept adding stuff till it looked like a decent article. Not anymore.
As hard as it is to come up with something original to write about, it is only the first step. Time and again I've sat down to write about one thing, only to find out that I've scribbled down something that looks nothing like what I had intended in the first place.
Good ideas for articles that are rich in discussion value are not always original. Most of my 'new' ideas can be found right back on the RSoF or Tip.it's own forums. After that I will attempt to rescue the article by finding a new angle on the story, and sometimes that works out.
But it has become much harder over time. For me, to create an article has changed from a homework style "cram the day before the deadline" to a continuous process of notes, napkin scribbles and typing frenzies while ideas are still fresh in my mind. The average time from first idea to completed article is now closer to five weeks rather than five days.
So the obvious question is then: Why am I still doing this?
Of course, I enjoy writing these articles; otherwise I wouldn't be doing this at all. But to truly understand why, after 2-and-a-half years, I still do this job (and sometimes it does feel like work), you need to understand what The Times is.
It is not a blog. While we're still writing opinionated pieces, we do not add content continuously about the same subject. RuneScape is too broad for that. It's not a column, as we're not restricted to current events. And it's not a newspaper either. What we write about is not always news, nor it is always fact. Since we get to ask "What if..?", sometimes what gets published is no more than an elaborated brainfart on a vuvuzela.
It is however, a platform for panel members and guest authors to highlight known and unknown issues, both light-hearted and dead-serious. The Times is unique in the RuneScape community that it gets a hundred times more (non-forum) readers than a popular forum thread does. And since the writers are not gagged by any authority (Tip.it or Jagex) it gives us the opportunity to put controversial issues in the spotlight it deserves.
I know for a fact that the people from Jagex read these articles, but how often our words reach the ears of the people upstairs is anyone's guess. That has not stopped me and the other writers from shouting though.
It is remarkable how similar the release of RuneScape updates is to the publishing of our articles. There is always somebody out there that sees something wrong with it, whether it is the subject, writing style, or just nitpicking about grammar.
But we are kept to a high standard. Not by Tip.it, but by you, the community. Every article has to be a 'good' one. The subject has to matter, the angle must be original, the writing must be intelligent, the titles have to be clever, the read must be entertaining, and the spelling and grammar has to check out. Fortunately, in that last area we have a team of wonderfully perceptive editors to back us up.
On a personal note, I am also part of a great clan that helps me with my research and is not afraid to give me some uncensored feedback. It’s been a resource I've tapped in far more than my articles show.
But all that said and done, there is still room for improvement. I have yet to try my hand at a fictional, and we haven't had one of those for quite a while now. I am also not too anxious about writing historical articles, 'cause I haven't been playing in the true early days of RuneScape.
One thing I fear is that one day the well dries up. Writers block. I know what you're thinking; "As long as there are new RuneScape updates, there is always something to write about". True. But with three or four significant updates a month, and anywhere between eight and twelve articles pumped out by the Panel, something's got to give.
Of course, I cannot speak for the other writers, but I wish I had more insight in the creation process of rest of the panel. If anything, I hope this piece here will either encourage some of you to submit some articles of your own, or at least give more feedback on ours, so we can better ourselves from it.
Writers thrive on feedback, preferably given to us as a writer, instead of to just one of our articles. It is hard to fix something if you don't know whether it is broken or not, and sadly, we cannot perform major overhauls on already published articles. But we can better ourselves before the next article comes out. So a shout-out to all you writers and readers out there; Speak your mind!