It feels a little weird to write an article about motivation while I myself struggle to create. Or does that make me an expert? I have been offline for a while… There weren’t any new podcasts and articles, and though I finished a game (Tomb Roller, more on that later) I had trouble focusing and staying motivated. Lots of things happened, and with Roy working on Cavemen Stories I was at it alone. I found myself more often on the couch then behind the tabletop (see what I did there). But why? And more importantly what did I do about it?
Creating as a hobby/side gig is a lot of fun. You get to do what you love and make your dream projects come true. But let’s not forget making dreams come true is also a lot of hard work.
Whether you are creating a podcast, a blog, a vlog, games or whatever, staying motivated when life happens can be challenging. Whether it’s because of the kids, because of work, school or illness, sometimes you just can’t get yourself to create. For me that used to lead to feeling guilty about not working on my projects and living up to expectations (which I usually created myself!).
And yes I said used to, because that’s the first thing I did, letting go. The funny thing is, it’s ok. We get so hung up on being “a indie developer” or whatever, we easily forget it’s ok to take a break sometimes. I learned a long time ago that getting worked up and convincing yourself you have to create gets you nowhere. For me doing just that leads to failure and frustrations, which results in me being less motivated! Working hastily and without focus, just to “work”, never did anyone any good. You will find when you take a break and (really) focus on other things you might learn a thing or two or get inspired in a weird way. In the end for me it’s the quickest way to get my head back into the game.
Motivation also has a lot to do with purpose and drive, hence your “motivation to do something”. It’s good when life has you down, to reflect upon why you’re doing what you’re doing. For me motivation often comes from realizing why I create, not from me having to. I love sharing experiences, ideas, and knowledge about game design, and in doing so I want other people to get inspired. That I guess is my purpose. Of course your second question should always be “does that make me happy?” If the answer is no, odds are motivating yourself will keep getting harder and harder.
But purpose can also come from the smaller things in life. I mentioned Tomb Roller in the intro. It’s a game I made for a game design competition (more on that later), and actually managed to finish in the past couple of weeks. Doing this competition was a surprisingly fun experience. Because of the smaller time frame and clear goal it also was really motivating. So when motivation was low finding some “casual commitment” did the trick. I can imagine collaborating, or doing a challenge on your favorite forum will have the same effect.
And what do you know I even wrote a new article! These are just some really simple ways to find motivation. But I would love to hear how you get back on the horse when life happens? Let me know in the comments!