See, when I started here I did so because it felt fun to write. I had lots of stuff to say and I say them better in print than verbally (I tend to yak around when I talk). I had fun writing Playtesting. But then something shifted. After about a year of writing I started thinking that “hey, I’ve been doing this for a long time now, I’m good at it, perhaps I should take it to the next level”. Sounds good, right?
Except, what is the next level?
Going pro was my answer. I’d make sure to deliver loads of great content, I’d deliver it on time, every time no matter what. I’d build up an audience and figure out a way to commercialize it. I’d be able to use my blog as a step into something bigger and better.
See the mistake?
Expectations. I’ve written about that before, that when you start to add pressure to something fun it stops being fun and starts being hard. That’s what work is for – I go to work five days a week, I do my job, I deliver on time and on spec and I get paid for it.
I started Playtesting as a way away from that. I wanted to write about gaming because it’s my hobby, the thing that I love doing. But when I started putting pressure on myself to deliver there was suddenly no room for failure. And with no room for failure there’s no room for experimentations, for play, or for enjoyment.
Any creative pursuit must have room for failure. That’s why, when you get a company to a certain size, you stop getting innovation in it. The company starts building rule-sets into the way it operates, rules that are meant to minimize failure, all those costly new things people do that don’t pan out. Except that then the company loses all those costly new things that people do which end up generating millions upon billions of dollars.
Take a look at Google, which is, arguably, the most innovative giant company there is. Except that they strive very hard to create an atmosphere where it’s OK to fail. They even specifically state that their employees get 20% of their time to devote to anything, without any demand for revenue nor any threat of failure.
I had removed that from my writing. Which meant that the writing started to be safe, dependable – and boring to me.
The pressure took away the joy to write and without the writing generating energy for me it started to become an energy sink. I burnt myself up writing Playtesting.
So here’s my resolution for the coming years: I will no longer treat Playtesting as a must do.
This means that I won’t be posting every Monday with news on Wednesday and Friday. I will treat Playtesting as play. I will write when I’ve got something to say. I will post news when I find something newsworthy. I will create the content I want to create, regardless of what I think would be the best from an audience building perspective.
That way I’ll be able to look forward to writing and you will, hopefully, be able to look forward to reading. And if you’re the kind of person who has to read right away when something’s new and hot, well, I guess you’ll just have to subscribe.