This is going to be an angry, self critical, navel-gazey post. I want to start by sharing this link. You don’t have to read the entire thing, but this will all go faster if you at least read the subheadings, because I’m going to go through each point and pass judgment on myself.
Ready? Let’s rock.
1.) Amateur Artists wait for inspiration
Guilty. This point is actually why I felt, ahem, inspired to write this post today. At least one day each week, I hit a point in the day where I’m Just Not Feeling It or some such shitsense, and it’s got to stop. I need to stop getting hung up on what the next step is, and just do something. It sucks, but time and again the solution to creative block has proved to be to Just Start. For writers, it means not being afraid to slap out utter crap until the block passes and the good stuff starts coming out again. For a solo game developer, it means picking the feature you’ve been dreading the most and just doing it until some version of it exists in the universe, and then refining it.
It also means having a nice long list of things to do at all times, something else I need to work on.
2.) Amateur Artists work until something else comes up
Guilty guilty guilty. If I manage to get myself started in the morning, and okay, most days I do, so maybe I’m being a little hard on myself here, when I get moving, it’s usually impermanent. I’ll finish the first task of my day, happily credit myself for a couple hours of good cranking, and then the creative block comes back. And instead of powering through it, I look for a distraction. That has to stop.
I really like the last line of this point: “A professional knows that the first hour or two of work is simply a warm-up exercise until their fickle muse finds them worthy of her attention.” I’ve felt that rush of finally hitting my stride after half a day’s torture. I need to bolster my willpower muscle and go go go crank crank crank every day until I’m truly out of juice, to ensure that I’ll find that muse consistently.
3.) Amateur Artists are constantly changing their focus
Guilty. I like to joke that I’m a jackoff of all trades, and when I do so, I ought to realize I’m just smartassing around the fact that I’ve never committed myself to becoming a true expert at something. I need to really sit down with my brain and determine what I want to be great at, and start getting great at it.
4.) Amateur Artists believe that if they build it, you will come
Not Guilty. Phew. Finally, some good news. I know damn well that just putting a game out there isn’t going to make it sell. Unfortunately, I also know nothing about marketing. I didn’t worry too much about it with Fortress, because making a fortune on Fortress was never the point. But I really want Monsta Punch! to make me some money. I need to become an expert at selling my art.
5.) Amateur Artists believe that success will happen quickly
Not Guilty. I know it’s a long road ahead, and I know I’m going to have to work hard. If I’m being honest with myself, the problem is that I haven’t worked hard enough yet. That will change.
6.) Amateur Artists believe they don’t need schedules or organization
Guilty. On one hand, I have in the past held myself to a rigid start time. I have not, however, done so recently, and I most certainly have not held myself accountable for staying undistracted during the work day. I need to start turning off all communication media when I start work and not letting myself touch them again until I’ve accomplished Big Important Things.
7.) Amateur Artists never finish their work
Guilty. I had to wrestle with this one, though. While I did indeed finish and release Fortress, it came on the heels of a lifetime of unfinished projects. I think, realistically, I have indeed broken this habit, especially when you consider that I now put out imperfect work on a weekly basis, but I won’t be totally satisfied until I release Monsta Punch! a year from now as promised.
8.) Amateur Artists are too busy learning to do anything
Guilty, but only barely. I had to think long and hard about this one, too, and I concluded that while I have mostly moved on from the mindset of constantly reading books instead of Doing, my initial instinct when I need to learn something new is still to grab a book and start reading. To be fair, I think I stop reading once I’ve got the basics now, but I still feel like I stall myself by spending too much time learning.
9.) Amateur Artists isolate themselves from the artist community
Guilty. I’m getting better, but still, Guilty. I’m not a very social creature, and while I’ve made some big strides in putting myself out there and connecting with other game developers, I have a long way to go. I need to meet more people, and not just game developers, but marketers, students, fans. I need to make more friends. I need to push myself to become a more visible face. This one scares the hell out of me.
There is a clear theme to this post: I don’t currently think I’m working hard enough. It’s time to change that. I let myself get away without always running full speed every day over the last year because I was dealing with some Serious Mental Shit, but now I’ve got my head working like it should. I don’t know for sure how to get started, but I’m not going to sit around and wait for the answer to come to me. I’m going to saddle up to my desk and I’m going to fucking make myself crank until I flat out can’t anymore.