My last documented development session was mid December. It’s now about a month later, and I haven’t worked on Oracle’s Eye.
I could list a bunch of reasons why I haven’t been able to work on it. Christmas took up a lot of my time. I was out of town for a week at the end of December, and I don’t have a laptop I could have used to work on the project. I moved during the first week of January, and only now do I feel that my computer area is mostly distraction free.
But those are just excuses. Clearly I didn’t give my project the priority it deserves. Still, I think there was something more to it.
I would decline invitations to events and say, “No, I really need to get some work done.” Then, during the time I should have been working on game development, I would get too easily distracted. Email would get checked way more often than it should have. I’d shuffle through papers on my desk. I would handle other tasks in my list of things to do. Then it would be incredibly late, and I would have to go to sleep to go to my day job in the morning.
It would be another evening wasted. I could argue that I at least got to cross some things off of my list. “The day wasn’t a total loss!” Of course, that’s not a useful justification when I haven’t done what I should have been doing for a month. If I keep this up, December 2006 will show up and I still won’t have a game to show for it.
So why haven’t I been able to even look at my project for so long? I finally identified it as fear. I’ve gotten the project to a point where I don’t have clear specifications and so it is hard to know exactly what to do next. I had the same problem when I started the project. I didn’t know what to do, and so I didn’t do anything. I didn’t want to do anything wrong! I’ve since learned that it is better that I do something rather than nothing. By hacking at my code until I have something useful, I now have a base to work with. Now, when I have to decide on my next task, I can more easily see if it will make the project better or worse.
So I sat down and wrote down all the things that would need to be accomplished in order for Oracle’s Eye to be considered really finished. For each of those accomplishments, I can then write down a plan of action. Afterwards, it should be a simple matter of just following the plan. Once the plan is completed, I can repeat the process with another accomplishment. It won’t always be easy to list out exact actions, of course. After all, I’m still learning about the problem domain. Still, it should get me out of this slump.
While I was writing this post, I realized I was referring to my lack of progress as a slump, which reminded me of Steve Pavlina’s article From Slump to Supercharged. Rereading it, I see that I was able to diagnose the problem correctly.
So let’s dive right into the heart of the problem. Why are you in a slump? You’re in a slump because you’re afraid. And you’re expending a lot of energy avoiding what you fear. It may not even be the subject of your work. It could be something totally unrelated, but it’s something that’s very important to you.
Near the end of the article, he talks about how fear and love are opposites. When you get rid of the fear of a challenge, you replace it with the love of the challenge. I noticed that when I was able to get past the fear of doing the wrong thing and could jump into development on Oracle’s Eye, I was loving it.
This week, I’m tracking my development time very closely. I’ve joined The Thousander Club at the beginning of January, but I haven’t done anything to show for it yet. Essentially that means that I am almost 85 hours behind for 1,000 hours of development time this year. I intend to catch up, which means that I’ll need to work on a plan to do so.
In the meantime, I just want to get out of my slump and start loving my game development again.