Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

Building On Your Own Rhythm

Posted by Rampant Coyote on April 19, 2013

People function differently. People have different optimum rhythms and patterns. I guess this is something good managers know, but too many managers – and people trying to manage themselves – don’t get. Or forget.

One of the tricks I have to keep re-discovering is to find ways of getting stuff done that work for me.  I sometimes try to implement recommended procedures by sheer force of will and habit. I guess that works just often enough to screw me up.

The case in point: writing. I keep trying to right from the top-down, the way I was taught in school. Start with the basics, theme, setting, etc., create an outline, and fill it in.

That totally doesn’t work for me. Maybe it doesn’t work for anybody, and I was just lied to in school. I dunno.  Programming, I can do top-down pretty well. Or bottom-up. Maybe it’s a function of familiarity. I’m a better programmer than I am a writer. But writing – I have had to re-learn that I write best from the bottom – up. I dream up things best in scenes, vignettes. With a few of those, it’s really a lot easier to tie things together as a whole. Sometimes a theme emerges, sometimes it they change the fundamental nature of the story I was trying to write.

It’s the same for things like time management, or budgeting, or programming. It’s not about staying in my comfort zone (my comfort zone is probably deep in the “procrastination” territory), but finding a way to structure myself in a way that feels natural and is easy to follow. Fighting that usually ends in frustration. But working with it – and building upon that long enough to make it a habit… is what tends to work best for me.

People reading between the lines may (properly) assume that a lot of writing and story development has been happening on Frayed Knights 2: The Khan of Wrath, and that I’ve had some frustration with that.  Yeah.  And that this has changed. Actually, confronting some deadlines and needs for collaboration kinda forced the issue, made me abandon the process I’d been unsuccessfully trying to impose upon myself for months, and go back to what I was comfortable with. Hopefully with some improvements, but I no longer feel like I’m swimming upstream all the time.

Funny how deadlines can do that. Necessity, mother of invention, all that. 🙂

Filed Under: Game Development - Comments: 4 Comments to Read

  • Charles said,

    Biorythms. Go with the flow, accept when you’re stuck and make the best of productivity surges.

    Also let your mind work out problems on its own. It is amazing how letting go and coming back later leads to those eureka moments.

  • Felix said,

    The thing nobody ever tells you about writing is that there’s no one true way to do it. I know people who write an outline first, and that works for them; I know someone who first writes the entire story in just a couple of pages, then expands that into a short story, into a novella and finally into a novel, ending up with a finished work at each stage. When I write the opening of a story, I never know what’s going to happen down the road; it just emerges naturally, and often the ending isn’t clear until halfway through or so — I nearly always write the story linearly from beginning to end. And yes, that means some stories remain unfinished. Big deal.

    It’s the same with programming. People get hung up on methodologies, but those are just tools, means to an end. Whatever works for you is fair game, as long as you get things done. The only thing that matters is that you *do* get things done, somehow. And yes, cowboy coding fails at that in the long run; but religious adherence to any particular methodology is even worse.

    Oh, and I hate, hate, HATE the word “procrastination”. Who came up with the idiotic idea that people should be permanently busy? When are you supposed to think? Rest? Enjoy the fruit of your work? Or… are we all supposed to be unthinking drones toiling for… whom?

  • Cuthalion said,

    I’d say my comfortable state is firmly in procrastination as well. (…Though I do agree with Felix that being busy all the time is a waste of time.)

    I’ve been “working on” programming for months now, for certain definitions of working on programming that don’t include any programming. As much as I hate scheduling, perhaps I need to go back to pre-designating times to program so that I avoid feeling like I’m having to decide between doing coding and doing Internet — it would help keep it from feeling like free time that I then have to get the most out of.

  • Xenovore said,

    I find that what works best for me (coding or otherwise) is to do a rough outline, i.e. get the basic “road map” at least, and then start putting the pieces together.

    More often than not, it’s hard to see exactly where things will fall until after you’ve written them, so I think it’s most important to just write something, anything, even if it only ends up acting as a placeholder until you can come up with something more robust.

    In other words: although you might only have the vaguest idea of what you want initially, the actual process of writing will allow it to coalesce and become clear.