ADVICE FOR KEEPING AT YOUR CREATIVE PROJECTS
Our tips for how to keep going with your passion projects, based on our experience with Gangs of Britannia.
A little background
Before our current project, we've tried a gaggle of different projects that we didn't continue with. Apps, new business ideas, novels. Some ended for good reason; there was a fundamental flaw that meant the ship was sinking from the offset. Other ideas just fizzled out. There was no real good reason why the project didn't continue on to success. We just sort of stopped doing it.
Why did this happen?
The answer is simple. It is very difficult to balance pursuing your creative project amongst the hustle bustle of everyday life.
There are a million other things that get in the way and take priority. I'm talking about girlfriends and boyfriends, your current job, applying for new jobs, going to the gym, going out drinking with your friends, going out for coffee, sports, Game of Thrones. I personally can't add this to my list, but husbands, wives and kids I'm sure are a hugely significant part on others' lists. Some of these things deserve their prioritised position. Some (in my opinion) do not!
These priorities, amongst other niggling emotional points - with the most notable one being fear of failure - mean great ideas fizzle out. And as we know, ideas alone, or fizzled ideas, aren't worth anything.
We wanted to share our thoughts on how to stay focused and keep going on your creative project. Whilst the hustle bustle of life continues on. I'm going to be humble and say that we're not necessarily the perfect model of effective working! We do still as a group have petty arguments about the best way to work. Also, our journey is by no means complete; the kickstarter launch of our project is in October.
Nonetheless, we've created a board game in under a year whilst the cacophony of 'real life' roars on. And wanted to share some things that we feel have helped us get this far.
We hope these tips help your ideas not to fizzle out. Here goes....
NOTE: if you work full time on your creative project - congrats to you! We spoke only from the experience of balancing your job with your project.
Our tips for keeping at your creative projects
The 4 tips: Riding solo, beating the drum, forcing your hand, and don't forget the fun.
Tip 1 : Riding solo
Jason Derulo rants and raves about riding solo in his smash hit song 'riding solo'. Normally, I completely agree with Jason on everything, but when it comes to pursuing creative passions, I think Jason's got it wrong in his praise of this strategy.
Find passionate people to partner with in your project. The primary reason for this is everyone has ups and downs in motivation. It's a natural part of life. In a solo project, a down in motivation = project not moving.
If you have multiple people working on it, even if your in a down in motivation, you get dragged along by the others in the project. Oftentimes working on it not to let everyone else down. Passion should be the primary driver of action, but fear of letting your team down is a healthy substitute when personal motivation hits a trough.
There are of course other big advantages to having more than one person on a project, not so much linked to 'keeping at' something.
Tip 2: Beating the drum
A lot of people moan about weekly meetings. Fair criticism includes that it encourages people to invest time in talking about doing stuff, but not actually doing anything.
However, introducing regular meetings every week at the same time (even for just a short amount of time) keeps the project ever moving forward, even if it's slowly. This regularity forces you at least somewhat to prioritise your project over other things in life, and it allows the project to become part of the natural rhythm of your week. Use that time to discuss progress and set actions to complete over the coming days.
Having that consistent, steady, forward movement is both satisfying and anti-fizzling.
Tip 3: Forcing your hand
We've found that we've made slow but steady progress for most part, with sudden bursts of immense progress scattered amongst it. This is because we've had big events and milestones in our calendars, which has forced high intensity action from us. As an example, we signed up to having a stand at the UK board games Expo 2017. For fear of looking like idiots amongst established board game companies, we had to be prepared with slick prototypes of the game for that event and we worked very hard in the run up to make sure we were ready. Turns out we still looked like idiots as we dressed up as the Peaky blinders, in theme with our game.
Moving swiftly on......
I'd love to say it was our proactive strategy to set these milestones to force us to action, but it wasn't. We kind of just lucked out with how events came up, but it meant we achieved a lot in a short space of time. Next time we would be more proactive in this vein for sure.
Have some milestones in your calendar pre-set far in advance. The more set in stone the better, and this is easily done by linking the milestone to something outside your project, like a show or event. This forces you to work particularly hard at times to achieve said milestones.
Tip 4 - Don't forget the fun
I've found a number of little nuggets of wisdom from the world of fiction, especially within the genres of child and young adult fiction. A few of my favourites of these quotes are Tolkein's 'not all those who wander are lost', and 'Life's not about how fast your run or how high you climb it's how well you bounce' from Tigger in Winnie the Pooh (a reference to 'bouncing back' from tough situations).
Dr Suess Says: 'If you never did, you should. These things are fun, and fun is good.'
We've found in the heat of it when pressure is on, you sort of forget the fun in what your doing. It's hard not to sometimes! But fun is good, and fun is kind of why you're doing this in the first place. And it's pretty important to remember.
We've tried to make time for playing board games amongst our project team, even, and especially, when the pressure is on and the project seems not that fun for a moment.
We hope our 4 tips for keeping at your creative projects were somewhat helpful to you:
1. Riding Solo (or not) - get others on board
2. Beating the drum - introduce regularity
3. Forcing your hand - set milestones to force bursts of activity
4. Don't forget the fun - make time for enjoyment for enjoyment's sake
Passion projects are great, but difficult to keep at no question with jobs and the like getting in the way. But keep at them!
We also hoped you liked (or, didn't massively dislike) our frequent use of the word 'fizzling'. We looked up a definition, and found it mildly amusing so thought it would be a nice way to end the post.
We welcome any thoughts, comments or feedback!