The Cycle

May 30th, 2011

And so it begins. For this first update I thought it would be fitting to talk about a tendency I’ve noticed about my own behavior. Perhaps I’m stupid and this is not a new discovery about human nature, or perhaps its something that’s just a problem for me, but in any case, I felt like sharing it now would be rather fitting.

When I get a new game or start on a new project, I’m always super excited about it. I can’t wait to keep playing it or working on it, and everybody around me knows what it is I’m currently “in to” because that’s all I really want to talk about. Today though, I want to talk about projects like games I’m working on or, well, this website, for instance.

I get an idea for something and I go through a few stages. The first stage consists of me coming up with the idea and going “Oh! That would be so cool! I bet I could do that! Yeah!”

Then I go through the second stage, where I hastily work on whatever it is, excited to get to the fun part and see the project to completion.

The optional third stage happens when I am interrupted by something – like my real life – during this second stage, and I can’t work on it directly but it’s still all I can think about. I talk to other people about it and brainstorm more ideas on what wonders it will contain. But eventually I always hit the fourth stage.

There always comes a point, sometimes sooner rather than later, where I get bogged down by all the little problems I hadn’t thought of in advance. “Oh, yeah… I didn’t think about that,” is a common utterance during this stage. Almost equally as common is the “Why isn’t this working!?” As, this is also the part where I could be working on something – especaillly if its computer related – and I can’t figure out why the computer isn’t doing what I want it to do. I get fed up with trying to make what I want to make, and instead begin to settle for working toward a goal. “Let me at least get this to work, then I can release it to ‘the public’ and take a break and come back to it later.” Rarely do I come back to it later. After all, I already told all those people about how great this thing was I was doing in step two, if I back down now just because I’m frustrerated they will all be so very disapointed.

So step five is the part where I’m not really doing it for fun anymore, but because I feel I have to. Then I usually forget about it fior long enough that next time I come to work on it I’m all excited about it again, having forgotten why it frusterated me to the point of quitting in the first place, or I just plain never come back to it again. This is why I sometimes see people like Notch (the creator of minecraft), dilligently working on honing his video game into a glourious masterpiece, and I get envious of… of what? Of their work ethic I guess.

So basically what I’m saying is, right now, for this ‘tri-weekly update’ thing I’m trying out, I’m in step two. How long do you think I’ll last until I run out of steam this time?

“But Tylor,” you ask, “Is there no way to stop this never-ending cycle of apathy?” Well, yes and no. I feel like maybe the key to being able to continue to be interested in what I’m working on is to stay excited about that. I may not be able to do that on my own, but I have noticed when other people are truly interested in it, and show me that there are curious and want to see me complete my work – that helps get me more excited about it again. It’s like, I know spending all this time working out why this stupid code isn’t working won’t be for nothing, so maybe I can just work this out and then it will be as awesome as I want it to be. So I see Notch with his thousands and thousands of fans and think “maybe that’s what keeps him going so hard for so long.

This of course is itself also a viscious circle. In order to produce more, quality entertainment I need more fans, but to get more fans, I need to produce more, quality entertainment. See what I mean? I know the simple answer is that I just need to stop being lazy and just not lose steam on my own, fans or no fans. And that’s what I’m trying to do with thi stri-weekly update thing. I feel like just maybe I’ll be able to restrict myself to updating every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday this summer, even if it’s just a little tiny update. I should be able to update with something. And if I succeed, maybe I will have more people checking back here regularly and using the forumsm and showing interest in what I’m doing, and it will be the oposite of that viscous circle. I will have more fans and be more motivated to make more things that get me more fans. It’s like… a tame square.

So here’s to hoping that I can still make myself do this well after I’ve hit step four. Place your bets for how long you think I’ll last over at my forums here.

View other updates here.