Stress of creative work

When you’re doing creative work, there are times where your mind just shuts down on its own. You still have ideas of what to do next, todo lists with stuff that needs to be done and mental notes of tasks waiting to get completed, but then you just end up staring into the distance blankly and do absolutely nothing.

Feels like you’re being self-destructive by what looks like procrastinating, even if in reality you’re still actually thinking subconsiously or taking a much needed step backwards to re-evaluate a recent previous task where you saw a flaw that can influence other things. Or hell, maybe you’re just tired and ran out of brain power for the day, unable to think of anything at all until tomorrow after some sleep.

You know you stopped for a reason, but also know that progress has annoyingly slowed down and is often dependent on factors beyond your control, which can make a creative artist’s work be very frustrating at such times, especially when there are outside pressures in real life.

While I do hate this a lot, I also know its inevitable. Rushing things leads to poor, if not completely counter-intuitive results, which often get scrapped later anyway, leading one to question why waste the effort on something if you’re not ready for it?

No rest for the wicked

Still, even knowing this fact doesn’t give me the comfort to relax freely when it happens, especially when there are threats or uncertaincy of my survivability looming in the future. Its hard to focus on developing anything innovative when your environment demands you to prioritize money and efficiency over quality, value and real things that matter.

Needing to hunt for money on a monthly basis to cover basic costs of living, food, hygiene, clothing and other essential bills, takes away my focus from doing innovation by having to find a job to simply keep being alive. More often than not, the job itself has as much purpose to this world as none at all, only being there for the purpose of making money, while not creating any real value of any kind.

Meanwhile, the act of living in Finland presents another type of distraction that keeps messing with my focus in long term design sessions; Cold winter weather. The temperatures can often go as low as -20’C, which requires heavy clothing equipped just to survive if you want go outside, meanwhile inside you have a whole other type of annoyance to deal with: Oxygen vs. Warmth.

During these inhospitable days in Finland, where temperature is just so cold that everything freezes into ice in a matter of minutes, working at home is really tricky. If you close the windows to preserve warmth, then you’ll be closing off the supply of clean air to the house, degrading the internal air inside the home, making you suffocate and feel pressured leading to discomfort and health problems in the long run. Its also difficult to think when there is no air to breathe.

Likewise, if you do open the windows, then you’ll begin to shudder from the cold air, which screws up any concentration required to think properly by needing to cover yourself with heavy blankets or other warm clothing, basically making you walk in an eskimo outfit inside your very home. Additionally, in a cold home its really annoying to go the bathroom, because you need to expose yourself to the cold do anything. Also, if your toilet cover happens to be ceramic, which absorbs the cool air and becomes icy-cold, sitting on that thing feels like getting an electric shock each time. Fun times.

To make matters worse, video games have a horrible reputation as a hobby among the major populace of the world, especially with parents, people with productive hobbies (sports, creative arts, crafting/engineering etc) and busy business people. People that I meet don’t have the same experience with video games I have and subsequently don’t see the same potential I do.

With the recent crap game developers and publishers have been pulling off lately, gaming has become even less enjoyable even among gamers just as much, with some claiming that gaming is dead, while companies focus more on monetization than actual product value, further causing more damage to the industry and the good-will of its consumers, which is a huge driver of sales to begin with. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you.

To top it all off, I’m currently living with my mother in the same home. We do this out of mutual benefit and split our costs 50-50. She is unemployed, having the extinct profession of a fur tailor and having being screwed over by both my dad and the government, leaving her as a single mother, desperately trying to find a way to make a quick buck to get rich fast.

This has led her to pursue every damn get-rich-quick-scheme there is on the internet, while she has barely any experience with using a computer, nor is she having any real motivation to learn its use as her only goal is to make lots of money as fast as possible no matter what the cost. Being a betrayed person, shes willing to even create scams if she knew how to program or otherwise set up a framework for one. She’s struggling from one month to another get rich, having her efforts fail as each get-rich-quick scheme she joins falls apart inevitably by design or on purpose, because it was a scam.

Its really depressing to watch and live with a person like that, but nothing short of becoming successful myself(read: earn lots of money every month), I cannot reach her. Anything I say, any advice I give is dismissed and I get belittled as a result when I try to do so. This happens because she sees me as someone who doesn’t qualify for giving worthy advice to her, no matter what it is, even if theres actual proof and clear instructions on how to do it.

Aside from that, while she indeed is a caring and loving mother, her old-school soviet mentality of teaching things through punishment, fear and intimidation has always kept me in an unhealthy state of worry, being demanded to do everything perfectly with no room to fail, or else. This has not had a good influence on my psychological health or my trust towards other people.

I’m trying to move into my own apartment as I finally have that opportunity to do so, but getting a cheap place to live in Helsinki is really difficult. I really wish for a world where the basic needs of human beings are not a thing of constant worry, where focus on actually creating real value is encouraged instead of amassing material wealth with no regard to the consequences to those around you this approach can bring in the long run.

The Super Game concept I’m working on is actually a solution of this in terms of raising awareness, providing education, a creative medium platform and giving people a method of earning money while doing it on a platform that is also providing them with infinite entertainment.

Innovation not encouraged

But yeah, doing design work can feel torturous at times; you have a vision, you know that it is worth doing, that it matters, you see the amazing potential it holds within and you have a method by which you know how to approach building it, but getting from start to finish requires lots of thought, research, testing and other time-consuming effort.

It has to be done right or it won’t be worth doing at all, especially for the type of a project I’m making. You see that awesome thing so up close in you mind, but its so far away in reality and each passing day feels like having a delicious carrot dangled infront of you, which you cannot bite at all. Whatever creative thing you’re working on is worthless until complete and released.

And as you’re facing the next design problem that requires you to stop and think it through properly as it has great influence on other parts of the project, all the while being crushed under the pressures of real life like the ones I’ve got mentioned above, you’re in for some really stressful times.

Hopefully once I get a couple design questions answered, I can finally start on mass producing sprite assets to sell them to developers on the unity asset store. This should atleast solve the problem of needing to worry about rent and other living expenses, while giving me the opportunity to live on my own. I hope.

Still, I can’t deny that I’m constantly encouraged by my environment to abandon what I’m doing now, and join the “dark side”. As the current society is structured around efficiency and robot-like performance, where I must make monthly payments simply to not die, this could be a way to solve that problem like a nuclear bomb; I’ll do the job very nicely, but the environmental damage will be collosal.

I’m often tempted to go to just create something really evil with the sole intention of getting lots of money, really fast, regardless of the collateral damage. With the knowledge I posess, I could design the most vile, psychologically abusive creation ever, something that would make the likes of Zynga and their schemes pale in comparison.

For now, I pray that day never comes and that I’ll manage to work far enough to the point where I can earn money the legitimate way without having to resort to that evil.

This post is a whine fest, I admit, but I really had to get this off my chest to feel better and remind myself why I’m doing what I do. When you’re doing something awesome but the environment and/or society around you discourages you from doing it, doing these types of self-evaluations is very helpful to keep you going.

Next up I want to finally blog about the power of encouragement, the great and frightening power every creative artist has at ones disposal.

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