Happy Monday! Since I last posted, I’ve been working on my video game project, Project 1401. Although I’ve worked on a few commercial games, my goal with 1401 is to make my own video game. It’s one of many creative challenges that I’ve never fulfilled. I gave myself 10 years to get them done.
Anyway, spending a week on 1401 also gave me a chance to test my willpower against the demons Guaranteed Uncertainty and Guaranteed Tedium, two of the resistances that sap my enthusiasm before I even start working. A few insights bubbled to the top of my awareness in the course of battle:
- Even thinking about how long something will take is a huge distraction, because it takes one’s focus away from immediate problem solving to the unproductive realm of an unreachable, unknowable, fictional future. It’s even worse if the current task itself is uncertain in some aspect. While there is a place for time management, worrying about it when you are trying to learn how to do something is really counterproductive. I have to remind myself that 1401 is a learning project in many respects, as much as I want it to be DONE NOW so I can reap the feeling of having finished it. Such thinking is the downside of being a dreamer I suppose; dreaming of rosy futures is just where my mind goes. Sticking in the moment and not letting distractions or negative feelings derail me is a huge challenge. I’m trying to cultivate a zen-like Not thinking of time and effort mentality, which seems to be helping.
Thinking about how much there is to do is another demotivation, creating significant threshold to starting every task. * A lot of the systems I’m making for 1401 are conceptually simple (isn’t everything?) but complex in the details. Because there are so many programming tasks involved, it can be quite daunting because there are a lot of details to take care of before the “good stuff” happens. This is demoralizing. To bypass this, I’ve bene using the trick of fixing something really small after just looking at the system as it exists; once I have the code up and in my face, my curiosity starts to take over and I start working as my focus is productively applied to problem solving, not assessing time, effort, and difficulty. There’s nowhere to go but THROUGH, you know?
The remainder of this post delves into more detail about the time expended over the past week. This is both a review of technical process (but not too technical) and the personal challenges I faced. Read on, if you dare!