When It’s Ready
A few years ago I decided I was going to make a game; just as a little something to use as a test-bed for getting to grips with various programming languages, libraries, and other tools that I wanted to experiment with. Although I didn’t have any grand vision in mind I jotted down a few ideas and got to work.
In the days that followed I was talking to a friend and, as often comes up in conversation, discussion turned to what side projects we were working on. I casually mentioned I was working on a game.
At this time most of those around me either had no side-projects on the go or were working on more tool-oriented, practical programs. As such the mention of someone working on a game sparked some interest from which it was here that things started to go wrong. Suddenly those around me would check in to see how the game was progressing, posing ideas for features to implement, and asking where demos were for them to try out. What was supposed to be just a learning exercise had ballooned into this immensely stressful project as I felt the need to build towards what people expected rather than what I wanted; the list of requirements for which was only growing longer with each day.
After a few weeks of this I found that most of the joy of the project had been sapped and I eventually scrapped it.
A painful lesson I had to learn was that of being mindful of when to announce a project. It’s far too easy to get caught up in the rush of starting something new; getting lost in that feeling of excitement that this will be some major breakthrough or magnum opus. In reality however this is seldom the case.
Taking those lessons to heart, since then I have exclusively worked on projects in private and only revealed them when complete. An approach that has served me far better. Take this site for example, I find that I’m in a better head-space to actually write once I’ve had time to digest and process a topic rather than simply react. By working in private, I’m free to dedicate as much time as necessary to mull over a subject and experiment until things are just right for publishing.
I have immense respect for individuals such as Mickey Mellen and Jan-Lukas Else who are able to publish excellent work on a daily basis but for me that just isn’t how I operate. I try keep a 4-week lead on posts; a far cry from publishing daily certainly but I’m OK with that. Taking the time to slow your publishing rate allows for a clearer signal to emerge from the noise I find. And doing that work in private? It allows for a greater degree of clarity and purpose, free of external influence and pressure.