I haven’t been writing.

At first it was just about writing this big piece I’ve been working on, and even then it was an issue. The experience of writing a 5000 word analytic piece is extraordinarily different from the experience of writing a 500-1000 word reflective piece. For one thing, it gets harder and harder to stuff down perfectionist tendencies that drag completion out the bigger something gets, and it gets harder to silence the anxiety that comes along with those for long enough to get good work in.

Something that’s hard to remember sometimes is that creativity isn’t just about the end product. We’re used to being consumers that only see the final product, used to believing that it’s all about what you show and sell, but it’s not – it’s about the act of creating, and how that fits into, emerges from, and expresses itself through the life you live every day. Changing what you produce doesn’t just change the end product, it changes who you are and how you live your life. And, for me, this attempted change, from musings and reflections into longer form analysis, with no lead-in or practice, was basically leading me through a brick wall. Well, that’s overdramatic, but leading me barefoot through a dark room full of lego pieces anyway.

I need to change the way I approach this.

I have no intention of abandoning the piece I’ve been working on – I’ve worked hard on it, and it’s super important to me. But I can’t keep on going assuming that’s going to be the next thing I put up, because I don’t know when it’s going to be done. Right now, even if it was my full-time job I’m not sure when I’d finish it. It’s something I’m exploring as I write – and, because I want to be complete, because I want to map out a territory rather than, as has been my wont, merely point to its soft torn-fabric shape on the horizon and yell that I see land, I can’t set deadlines. Who knows how big this island will turn out to be?

I’m going to resume uploading once a week. This recent set of ambitions hasn’t panned out well, but there’s no harm in a failed experiment here and there as long as one is willing to cede defeat. Only generals who are willing to lose battles win wars.

It’s training. It’s being a train, loading enough coal in to push myself forwards but not building too much pressure and exploding. It’s piecing a life together, piecing a self together, even after little bits of habit and memory and love drop off, Frankensteining myself piecemeal into my own ideal image. It’s trying to figure out how to walk when every day I seem to wake up with a different number of legs, four in the morning, two in the afternoon, three at night.

There’s no point in complaining about it. It’s just being human.

  1. Jōchō said:

    I’ve been working on a game recently, and as it gets bigger and my ambition for it increases, so does the chance for anxiety to crop up. Sometimes I’m super excited to work on it. Sometimes I dread it, feeling like it will never amount to what I want it to be. But no matter what I do, even if I never finish it, I think I’ll be better for having worked on it. Thanks for writing this and thanks for writing in general.

    • Thanks for reading and responding!

      It really is helpful to focus on the process instead of the result — when thinking about results it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer number of things that need to be done, but just being a person who works on those things every day is easier to manage, and takes one closer and closer to the same goal. At game companies they have different people planning out the scope of the project and producing individual pieces, but when you work on a game by yourself you have to do both, keeping your head down to make progress while still coming up once in a while for air. It has its own rhythm, and it’s a learned skill in its own right.

  2. Thank you very much for this post!
    I am currently writing on my first big story and I have become so frustrated at times. It’s like you said, we only see the end product but not the process that’s getting us there. I try to write every day, even if it’s only one sentence I manage. And I try not to be too critical or judging at this early stage and want to take this one step at a time, but it is really hard. Your article just gave me the motivation to keep writing and not giving up! So thanks again very much!

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