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Searching for the Wrong Thing

Many times when I talk about creative endeavors with those who aspire to pursue something, be it game development, art, or writing, I'm struck by a common theme that seems to act as a barrier for many. It shouldn't, but it's all about perspective. 

You'll often hear questions like "How do you keep motivated to do it?" or "How do you find the inspiration to keep at it?"

I hate to break it to you, but you're looking for the wrong thing. You don't need motivation, or inspiration, what you need is discipline

You need to make it, whatever it is, a habit.

Creating should become something you do anyway, even if, or perhaps most importantly when, you aren't 'in the mood'

The truth is none of us 'feel like it' all of the time, but what we have learnt is that if you wait for motivation you'll never develop enough inertia to truly move forward towards your goals.

No, you need to make it a habit. You need some discipline to stick with it when you don't necessarily feel like it. 

The thing is, creativity doesn't always flow at a constant flow. The key here is coming to the realization that that's ok. Your creative energies will ebb and flow. That is to be expected. The key is to harness even the low tides and get stuff done. 

How you do this works differently for different people, but it will almost always revolve around some form of schedule and goals.

Schedule it! Set time aside for whatever it is you want to achieve. Modern life is busy at the best of time, and free time rarely just materializes out of thin air. You have to make time for it. Find the discipline to crave out time for your goals, and then use it.

Some days it will be slow, some days it will be fast. That's fine. The important part is the forward motion that then becomes habit.  

Gamification, for all the negative connotations that many game designers associate with it, can also work. Make your progress on a game into a game. Create goals, meta-achievements as it were, for yourself. Hell, even add incentives for yourself to them. Whatever works for you.

Once your chosen creative endeavor graduates from occasional dalliance to a regular habit, then you enjoy the benefits of progress, and start to develop the discipline required to take it to the next level.

I say this to people, and some balk at the suggestion, as if I am suggesting they 'take the fun out' of their passion. Well, to truly develop that passion into something meaningful you simply have to practice at it, get better at it, and that does not just happen of it's own accord. 

This approach also allows you to discover what conditions best suit your creative inclinations. Some people are night owls, others get their best work done in the mornings, some of weekends in a coffeehouse, some at home on a boring Wednesday evening. 

Once you recognize your own patterns you can then leverage that further to help establish the habit.

Side note worth making here. Beware of this becoming an OCD thing, a healthy balance is also important! In fact, once it becomes habit, make sure you also carve out time away from the project, whatever it is, for down time and to recharge the batteries a little.

Taking this kind of an approach is a pro-active step towards achieving your goals. 

It might sound like it borders on work, but you'll be amazed how much more you enjoy your passion as you get better at it, as learning and improving becomes a habit.

Develop good healthy schedule that embrace your goals and ambitions.

Make it a habit.



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