Some people will tell you persistence is key. It's the one thing that impossible projects, video games, and the pursuit of women all have in common. At least for those people. They won't give you the key to persistence. They expect you to figure it out yourself. And you kind of have to, no matter how maddening it is. I learned this from Alto's Adventure.
I just beat level 49, meaning I have one level left until I've completed Snowman's beautiful creation. I've noticed over the months playing that I begin to think differently when I'm trying to accomplish the in-game goals. I have to stop myself from trying to do all three and just focus on one at a time. When I've completed one — often because they take so long — I have to stop thinking about the tasks it required as things I should do each time I play. What a great way to learn priorities. I've talked about this phenomenon before in my tango with multitasking. I somehow manage to end up treating a game like work — I just want to do it well. In that, I mean not die.
Alto's Adventure was a lot of fun for me at first. I remember marveling at the succinct graphics, dynamic environment, and the goals that seemed impossible, which kept me playing. I loved the character the game has. I wish I still did, but I'm too busy on the little things. The goals seem to be taking away the joy of playing the game. I'm too focused on completing it to have fun. I should be, though — I've traveled 1.5 million meters in it. It gets old, and I want some closure about now. I get so careful about it that I actually end up dying, not staying alive.
How did I get to level 50? Persistence. I didn't give up. Finishing each level is quite relieving. I didn't get the relief I was expecting, though, because I failed to notice the game ends at level 50. So I still don't have the game's best character. Yet.
This past week, I've been on vacation. I decided it would be good for me to intentionally set aside time for some rest and music production. It's been much more difficult than I expected. I've been able to rest, but trying to be intentional about creativity has its own demons.
I've never been one to procrastinate. In fact, I do the opposite. I end up obsessing over something until it's done. I worry about it. Sleeping At Last's "Pluto" describes this part of me well. When I begin a project, it's the only thing I think about. Music is no exception. For one thing, it's very enjoyable for me, so I can spend a long time on it naturally. At a point, it gets frustrating though. I should recognize that and take a break, but I get scared I'll lose the creative streak or never pick up the project again.
I had to let my favorite song rest for a while because I couldn't figure out what was technically wrong with it, and I spent so much time on it I didn't feel like it should be ignored forever. I want to make it good, but I want to do it with the time I have right now. That's my process. I don't want it to wait. However, after letting it go, I was able to work on some other songs. They aren't perfect either, but at least I'm still moving forward. I just don't want to forget it's easy to lose focus and do a bunch of stuff halfway.
Some days are terrible, they really are. It's easy to look at artists like Ryan O'Neal (Sleeping At Last) and wonder how they consistently release such inspiring material. It's tempting to let that stop you from moving forward with your own creative endeavors. Then there's the originality roadblock that tells you every piece of music has already been created. You just have to remember none of it has been done with your touch, which at a rudimentary level (the way you play the notes on your guitar, the words you choose to use in your lyrics) will be different from those before you.
On those days, nothing sounds, looks, or reads the way I want it to. I can't say the right things in conversation, and I feel like people don't care that I'm around. Everything stacks up on those days, but it's only because I let it. One defeat leads to another. I'm getting better at harnessing the defeats and using them to make the next project better than it would have been if I accomplished the previous one. That proves difficult. It's not all about persistence, either. Sometimes it's about remembering what the end goal is, and if there isn't one, accepting that the project needs to go away for a while. That doesn't give anyone the excuse to scrap the next one, though.
I'm not happy with this blog post. I didn't even want to publish it. I showed it to a few people and asked what they thought, because I didn't want to throw away something that could still be valuable to others. Those people, who I trust to give me their honest opinion, told me they liked it. They said it helped them process their own problems, and if anything realize they aren't alone. That's my goal here. I hope it sheds some light on some things in your life too. And please, don't ignore your creative voice. If one person doesn't like it, there's definitely someone who will. After all, some people hate dogs and love cats.