Archive for the ‘Creativity’ Category

This is a question which can instantly evoke a sense of dread in the game design fraternity. This is largely due to the assumption that any designer worth his/her salt should immediately know the answer and regale the inquisitor with definitive pearls of wisdom on the subject. But the truth is, there is something quite slippery about game design and no clear answer for the question above. In fact trying to do so could be compared to attempting to nail jelly to a wall. So understandably game designers can suddenly look a bit broken when asked the question. This is largely because it involves summoning every ounce of every experience they’ve ever had and distilling it down into a few choice words on how they try to make things fun for people. In other words it’s a bit of an impossible ask, but hey, I like a challenge so my very own distillations on what makes a good game are below:

Engagement – Players should care about everything that is happening during play. Great games demand attentiveness to the clear and subtle shifts in game-play to achieve success:

“I have to pay attention or I’ll lose”.

Meaningful Choices – The decisions that players make during play should affect the outcome of the game. The more this impact registers with the player/s, the greater the sense of attachment they’ll have to it. People tend to care more for things they’ve had a greater influence on.

“Everything that I and other players do, matters”.

Purpose – Everyone likes to feel they have a purpose and games are no different, players will ask questions like; why am I doing what I’m doing? Why is it important? Any confusion in this area will detract from the game experience. The best games have clear goals. People don’t like to feel that they’re having their time or effort wasted, having a clear and meaningful purpose alleviates this.

“I know what I have to do and it’s important”.

Depth – There should always be something more for players to learn, either about the game or themselves or indeed other players. Mastery of ones actions is a compelling proposition for people because it reveals a refined view of things that can give us advantage over others. Great games have plenty of depth that allow for players to demonstrate this.

“Playing this game gives me a sense of empowerment”.

Accessibility – Players should never feel overwhelmed. An accessible game will always make the player/s feel in control whether a beginner or an expert. The best games reveal complexity with mastery rather than front-loading a player from the start.

“I feel like an expert at this game”.

Bounceability – This denotes the positive feeling players get at the end of a game where they strongly feel they can do much better next time they play. This is often combined with immediately wanting to play again and is tied very closely with the qualities of addictiveness. Evoking this from a player is a very strong sign of an awesome game. Not only does the player feel like they’ve learned from the experience but critically they also feel it is instantly actionable.

“Next time will be different, I’ve got this sussed”.

Player Expression – Everyone is inherently unique, games that allow players to demonstrate individual expression, talent or flair tap into an innate human disposition to show societal value. People enjoy games that allow this to be demonstrated in an obvious way.

“That chess-master clearly has an incredibly logical mind”.

Flexibility – Fantastic games can accommodate multiple approaches and still deliver. Well balanced mechanics form a self regulating system that always give a fun experience that feels unique to the player/s.

“I always have a fun game”.

Value – The best games give players multiple returns on their investment and I don’t mean financially, I mean in time and effort. This can be tangible, but more often it’s intangible; either way players always feel like they’ve got something out of the game. They feel rewarded for playing.

“I’ve got so much use out of this game”.

That final point is where I’ll end because it is one of the most crucial. What has value to people is that which is useful to them. This sounds cold, but actually, what is useful to people comes in many guises as well as games. Great music, art, films, poetry, people, theatre, books, TV alongside many other mediums found across our collective cultures are all useful because they help people find meaning to their own lives. They refine and distill messages, stories, emotions and lessons, they allow people to frame their own life experience in a meaningful way. Ultimately, this is all that people are searching for. The joy of each medium is the way in which it does it. The question we have to ask ourselves as game developers is how do our games fulfill this function? How are they useful to people? I hope this article has gone a small way to explaining how the best ones do.

Hogrocket Logo 

It has been almost 6 months now since I co-founded our games company Hogrocket. I’ve learnt a lot over this period and it feels like the right time to write some of that down and share it. I hope that it’ll be of interest to you. Some of the points may be obvious; all that I’ll say is that I set up the company to learn and I certainly don’t claim to be any kind of authority. The following constitutes the most important discoveries and lessons I’ve learnt so far:

Making decisions is critical for momentum: Indecision and constant discussion is a comfort trap and a big time sink. Make decisions with conviction and then learn your lessons. You’ll learn far more than endlessly debating over the perfect course of action (which doesn’t exist anyway).

You’ll swiftly learn your strengths and weaknesses: Which is fantastic because knowing them is a strength in its own right! Working in a small team is like a boiling pot, things will bubble to the surface quickly. This tends to give you a heightened sense of everyone’s skills and character traits, including your own, which is a welcome side-effect to the volatility.

You’ve got to be in the same room together: Working from home seemed like a good idea, we would save on fuel, use Skype and not have distractions. However, creative collaboration needs face-face communication to effectively exchange ideas and the energy behind them. Even more important is focus, when working remotely it’s all too easy for team members to start pulling away and heading in their own direction. Working remotely becomes an exercise in reigning things in rather than getting stuff done.

Running your own company is a different kind of stress: Note that I didn’t say more stress, I can certainly attest to the stresses of working for someone else. The difference is the increase in stress you place upon yourself. There is more internal pressure than the usual external because things matter much more to you personally. As a result I’ve gained more self-discipline, more appreciation for the benefit of exercise and just as critically, the need for rest.

Let your experts be experts: If you’re contracting people to do work for you then give them clear direction on what you want to achieve and then get out of the way. Just because it’s your company or your project it doesn’t make you an expert on everything. Sometimes sticking your oar in can serve only to muddy the water. You’re paying them for a reason; because they can do something you can’t do yourself.

Make money: This attitude you may think is not becoming of an ‘indie’ studio doing things for the love. And although I care a lot about what we’re creating ‘love’ is not guaranteed to pay the bills and I’m getting kind of tired of the romanticism surrounding being ‘indie’. I want to create a viable business, let’s not fool ourselves here, whether making games or crackers if you’re not selling then you’re screwed. Seth Godin always talks about the fear of shipping and he is absolutely spot-on. I think we’ve created a great first game and hopefully it will make money but I’ll be a lot more comfortable once we’ve shipped it and next time I don’t plan for us to take nearly as long.

Humility: I’ve gained a much greater admiration for those who manage to run successful companies and projects. This has been particularly apparent for me because after writing my blog for a year now I’ve realised quite how much of a difference there is between saying and doing. I’ll be held accountable to what I have written by the quality of our games and quite honestly this scares me to death! But there’ll be no greater judge on those accounts than myself.

That final point is a good place to conclude this review because it ties in with a broader lesson that I’ve learnt – which is the need to make mistakes for yourself, its one thing to be told, but quite the other to learn the hard way. Lessons tend to sink in more when they affect you directly! So in this regard the life experience has been invaluable and worth taking the risk for.

I would love to hear about your own experiences, feel free to contact me or comment below.

Mr Ego

Leave your ego at the door” is a well used phrase and so it should be. I don’t think many would argue that ego is good, especially in a team environment. Yet all too often ego is allowed in through the studio doors. As the very thing that defines a person it’s hard to simply say to someone to leave ego behind. Ultimately then, the best way to get rid of it is to not allow it in the first place. An effective recruitment process is therefore crucial to building a good team, but it’s easy to become complacent, especially when teams ramp up fast. So here is my list as to exactly how destructive ego can be as an argument for being as diligent as possible with your recruitment.

  • The problem with ego is that it can be quite deceptive – quite often people who have strong-armed a decision using bluster and belligerence are given the benefit of the doubt when it works out. Here’s the rub: with a talented team they’ll always find a way of making things work. Don’t let this cloud your judgement when looking at whether things could have been done better. Relief can hide a multitude of sins and ego can often be allowed to win again and again.
  • Ego takes the focus away from the work – We’re social animals and it can be very easy to lose focus on our work and concern ourselves more with pecking order. A well established structure where everyone’s role is clear will leave less room for social ambiguity and more room for effective game development.
  • Where there is ego there are irrelevant battles – I say ‘irrelevant battles’ because there are meaningful battles to be had on what matters, yep, the game. Ego battles become about who shouts hardest, longest and loudest. This creates what I like to call the black hole phenomenon where everything else in the room is sucked into a universe of meaningless bollocks. Ego is a big distraction away from what matters.
  • Where there is ego there is time wasted – decisions in government are made slowly because politicians must also consider their positions on an issue and the political ramifications as well as (and often more than) the actual decision in hand. Game development mired with politics is doomed to failure, or at best, massive expense.
  • Ego distorts effective decision making – if ego is the dominating force in your organisation the best politicians will rise to the top, but not necessarily the best decision makers. Ego tends to breed contempt if people don’t feel decisions are being made for the right reasons. I don’t need to tell you how destructive negativity then becomes.
  • Pandering to ego leads to compromise – and it is inevitable that you’ll have to pander to ego if you don’t want constant battles and strife in the team. Compromise is more often than not the most socially cohesive resolution, but alas, not for bold innovative design. Compromise leads to mediocrity. If Johnny Big Tantrum is always throwing his toys out the pram every time things don’t go his way, then however talented he is, you have a big problem.
  • Ego necessitates the need for damaging management mechanisms – even diligent management who recognise that large egos are having a distortive effect are between a rock and a hard place.  They’re forced to react with methods to reset team balance. However over-management can be stifling in a creative environment. Especially if the perceived solution is more formalisation in an effort to get everyone’s voice heard.

With ego running rife in an organisation the final result is always the same; people problems masked by project problems. Before they notice the difference, or indeed are willing to admit to it, it’s far too late to do anything about it. I would hazard a guess that this (exacerbated by other factors) is the root cause of most failed projects and companies. So let’s do our best to stamp out ego wherever we see it rearing its head, good luck!

It’s good to Write

Posted by pcollier under Creativity, Work

Contortionist lady at typewriter

Next month it will be a year since I began writing my blog. This hasn’t been easy as I find the process of writing very taxing, as do many, so I’m proud of the accomplishment. Over the course of the year I’m reliably informed by friends that my writing has improved a great deal. This is good to hear because, as we all know, when change happens gradually it can be hard to notice.  In reflection I think the catalyst for improvement was the realisation that I was trying too hard to be something when writing. Finding a truer voice has been my greatest discovery throughout the past year. I know it was a significant realisation because the truer and closer to my heart I have written the more my articles have resonated with people. The purpose of this article is therefore a bit of a sales pitch if you haven’t dabbled into writing for a while. Even to those whom I’m preaching to that are already converted (AltDevBlogADay contributors I’m talking to you) hopefully it may give you some insight as to why you may be feeling good about yourself!

Creative people often suffer from very chaotic minds. The benefit to this wild storm of synaptic activity is its capacity to deliver unique and innovative thought. The problem however can come in marshalling these thoughts in a coherent way that is meaningful to others. The struggle comes from the fact that ideas are often born from many random sources that are hard to thread together into an explanation. Writing is one of the most effective remedies for this problem as it is forces you to structure your thoughts. In fact for this reason the process can be extremely therapeutic because it brings order to chaos. So somewhat paradoxically, as creative but simultaneously logical beings, this pleases us, aren’t humans messed up! So without further ado here is a list as to why writing can benefit us all:

  • Writing requires focus on a particular topic – to the mind that is used to sporadically and wildly swirling around, providing a focal point can help redirect this energy akin to a whirlwind touching down on the ground. I liken this process to laying down markers which you can return to when lost. If at intervals you’ve concluded and laid down structure to your thoughts on a topic they are easier to return to and muster when required.
  • You’re communicating to others – life has a lot to do with connection. It’s very special to do something which reinforces an existing relationship or establishes a new one. Writing allows you to do this by saying something which resonates with another person. That shared realisation and unity of thought for that brief moment creates a bond that never leaves us. There is nothing more pleasurable than the expansion of the human experience through another, writing is a fantastic conduit to achieve this.
  • Writing requires you to compose your thoughts so that they’re meaningful to others – this act of composition brings you closer to your reader because you’ve had to consider them. What’s created is a mutual appreciation of each other’s existence. This is a tremendously potent force when properly realised. Any great expression of art is beautiful for this reason.
  • In a world full of sound bites, headlines, status updates and 140 character limits sometimes it’s good to say a little more – there is a lot to be said for conclusive thought but done exclusively there comes the danger of a loss of depth. Expanding upon your thoughts through writing can add richness to your message and with it less chance of misinterpretation. Context is important to deliver meaning behind what you want to say, otherwise it’s just noise.
  • It keeps you honest – having a record of what you’ve said prevents contradiction and hypocrisy. Thankfully just the very act of writing helps to solidify your thoughts anyway. This means you’re less likely to confuse others with mixed opinions and more able to give a purer, truer account of yourself. Being held accountable to your words is very healthy because it ensures more careful consideration of what you say in the first place.

So that is my pitch as to why you should put pen to paper and/or finger to keyboard. The fulfilment from connecting with others through writing is something I’ve found not many things can compete with. Any time you write something meaningful to others a positive ripple is sent speeding through our collective consciousness. The energy you expel tends to return to you in multiples creating a positive compound effect that makes the whole exercise very worthwhile. I look forward to reading what you have to say.

Alice tumbling down the rabbit hole

Game development can become an increasingly tricky proposition as it progresses and losing objectivity is often the culprit. It is a hazard of the job that dogs us all. As with any labour of love we get tangled up in detail and can lose sight of the bigger picture. Retaining objectivity is important because it helps keep your game steered in the right direction.

One of the functions of a game director, or whoever is in overall creative control of the project, is to retain objectivity. The best achieve this by avoiding getting bogged down in detail and effectively delegating. The very best, in addition, have a handle of every detail but only with a view to how it contributes to the bigger picture. They have an ability to zoom in and out without getting stuck.

Whatever your breadth of influence on the project having a handle on how the details of your specific contribution add up is crucial to keeping objectivity. This is why being given a clear brief is effective because it help you ask the right questions in the context of the overall project. Part of remaining objective is the ability to ask questions of what you’re doing.

So what other things can you do to help prevent losing your objectivity? Here is my guide:

  • Talk to others about your work – explaining what you’re doing to another person forces you to approach it from an outside perspective and with a more conclusive eye. Another person is objectivity, so use it.
  • Leave your work and then come back to it – the further down the rabbit hole you’ve tumbled the longer you should leave it before returning.  It’s a simple and classic strategy but one of the most effective. However it takes self-awareness to recognise that you’ve lapsed and fallen into crazy-land. Taking action can sometimes just mean having a cup of tea or in more serious cases a longer break, like a vacation. The amount of times I’ve come back to my work and muttered “What was I thinking?!” is plenty. Artists; how many times have you overly tweaked detail that no one will ever notice but you? Coders; overly engineered a piece of code for its intended purpose? You get the picture.
  • Know your goals – It’s hard to look at things with an objective eye without an objective! Pretty simple, but I’m sure, like me, you’ve seen your fair share of developers, or even entire teams, getting caught up in needless details and tangents because their objectives weren’t clear.
  • How is your contribution relevant? Without a sense of purpose we can all stray. Refuse to take on work until you’re absolutely clear why what you’re doing is important and how it fits into the bigger picture. You can’t be expected to remain objective without knowing this. This ties a lot into effectively motivating your team.

  • Be passionate about your work, but leave your emotions at the door – emotional attachment prevents objectification. Any Pimp will tell you that one for free. We all need to be able to cut our losses and get rid if something isn’t fulfilling its purpose. Being sentimental, emotional and overly attached can be your biggest enemy here. So grab a flamboyant hat and a lovely big fur coat and your fellow developers will know you mean business.

  • Present your work to the team – A more extreme version of talking to just one person; this can be a really useful exercise. Fear of talking to a large group of people forces you to consider your audience and demonstrate a very clear grasp of your work. Succinctly summarising your work is impossible to do without looking at things objectively. Just simply out of respect for your audience you’re perspective has to be a wider one.

On the flip side to all of this, it shouldn’t be condemned as a wholly negative thing to lose objectivity and get lost in your work. It is the natural tendency of a curious mind to go off and explore. It should just always be tempered with an awareness of your end goal. It’s a skill to recognise when you’re straying too far and to redirect yourself. It’s a matter of self-awareness and discipline to maintain a firm grasp of the bigger picture. Good luck keeping that grip!

What other methods do you employ in keeping your objectivity? Have you any examples of how badly things have gone when objectivity was lost? I’d love to hear them.

Announcing Hogrocket

Posted by pcollier under Action, Creativity, General, Work

Hogrocket Logo

For a very special reason I’m taking a break from my traditional design orientated posts today. Today I am pleased to announce the launch of my very own company: Hogrocket. We are an indie game development studio focused on mobile, social and connected platforms. I’ve founded the company with Stephen Cakebread and Ben Ward who are two ex-colleagues from my former employer Bizarre Creations. Stephen is best known as the creator of the Geometry Wars franchise and Ben primarily for being the awesome guy who helped build community at Bizarre.

Forming Hogrocket is a big deal for me; I’ve always wanted to run my own company. To be able to combine this with my passion for design is a prospect I’m relishing. Don’t get me wrong it’s also very scary; going from a regular wage to surviving off your wits alone is daunting. But in some ways this is also the point, this is a challenge that I could not live with myself for not attempting.   I’m also incredibly lucky to be in a position where I’ve found two super talented people (and hopefully others soon too) to go on this journey with. That’s not something to be under estimated. Quite often however much you want to set up a company the timing isn’t right or the team isn’t there. Finding people who have the same risk profile and similar aspirations is a very specific ask. Suffice to say I’m excited about the future and already enjoying the creative freedom and liberations of working in a small, dynamic team.

The game development industry is in a very interesting state of flux right now. This is acutely apparent in the UK; mainstream game development here has been utterly devastated. This is through a combination of advantageous tax relief programs in Canada causing brain-drain in the UK and traditional large publishers in a flight to the safety of their established, biggest selling brands. This would have been a worrying death knell for innovation and creativity in our industry but thankfully a brave new world of game development is occurring at the other end of spectrum. From the fragmented remains of large scale studio closures small teams of indie developers everywhere are springing up. This is occurring because the barriers to entry are being removed, suddenly there are no gatekeepers. It is possible to direct sell to people online and multiple business models to do it. Additionally, say what you like about developing for Apple iOS devices (discoverability etc) but now there is the opportunity to make smaller games for low development costs and make a living. This state of play simply hasn’t existed in the industry for decades. So joining the indie ranks with Hogrocket is something that, as a creative, I feel an incredibly liberating prospect. Hopefully the adventure won’t end up simply liberating my bank account of cash!

So please join the community we will be building at Hogrocket, I look forward to talking to you and sharing our progress.

On talking about his ‘man-cave’ Guillermo del Toro talks about why his immense collection of curious possessions are important to him:

“Everything in the house for me has equal importance whether it’s a rubber toy or an anatomical model, whatever it is, it’s here to try and provoke sort of a shock to the system and get circulating the lifeblood of imagination, which I think is curiosity. When we lose curiosity I think we lose, entirely, inventiveness.”

After seeing his awesome house it got me thinking more about curiosity and creativity.

The delight of investigation is crucial in design. Exploring a concept and finding unopened doors is a skill which as you get older can become harder to find. Today is my birthday, so today of all days I am ever more acutely aware of the lengthening pursuit back to the magical outlook of childhood. But without curiosity the designer’s will to investigate can only diminish. A childlike view of the world is as integral to your success as your professional adult persona. It is only through curiosity where true value can be found.

Through exploring the odd and the peculiar we can escape from mediocrity. So seek out and surround yourself with those who see the world differently, their company will pay dividends many times over. As Del Toro alluded to, imagination feeds off curiosity. An inspiring design can only come from a designer prepared to be daring. Be unafraid to venture into the unknown and come back with something people have never seen or experienced before. Fight back against those who try to pull you back to safety and have the guts to explore where others fear to tread.

Curiosity lies at the very heart of human nature, so if you’re not knocking on that door then why bother? Ask yourself, are you offering anything new? Does your design excite and raise curiosity? Are you creating a need to explore or indeed easing the fear of exploring? You should aim to constantly be both creating curiosity and rewarding it. You must provide the joy of discovery.

It is through experiencing that which is new and odd to you that your brain can really flex its creative muscles. By trying to understand something never seen before, it will generate new insights, unique thoughts and synaptic sparks that the muse inside of you will revel in. Your enemy is the mundane, the well trodden path and the insidious voice inside your head that tells you to conform. Don’t do it. People will see value in the fruits of your curiosity and thank you for engaging theirs.

Destruction and Design

Posted by pcollier under Creativity, Design Brief, Work

Destruction

Sometimes things have to be cut loose to save ourselves more pain down the line. The same is true of design. Through the process of destruction new ideas can often have a greater chance of flourishing. So although it may seem contradictory to our creative cause, our willingness to destroy is also vital.

Often we can be so bogged down in trying to get something to work that it can give us tunnel vision. We can be so fixated on the details that we lose sight of the bigger picture and our overall design goals. Becoming overly obsessive on the details can lead us down intricate, diversionary tangents and ultimately to a skewed design. It can be a neat trick as you become a more experienced designer to catch yourself doing this and learn to cut off where you started to run astray. We’re all guilty of getting carried away, become an expert at reining it in and cutting loose and I don’t mean in the free spirited way!

Sometimes it pays to turn the destructive eye to the whole design. In the past I’ve found myself much more capable of this after a break when I’ve rediscovered my objectivity. It is painful to throw away hard work but sometimes (as the film ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ demonstrated) you have to crawl through a river of shit to come clean out the other side. Every time I’ve decided to throw away work in the past it has subsequently lead to a stronger design. I hated doing it at the time but was always thankful after for having the courage to not be precious. It is just a process of refinement and iteration.

At any rate the aftermath of destruction is an interesting place. Taking a torch to your design will in turn give you the sturdy green shoots poking out of the blackened ashes. These survivors are the design elements that can be your winners and keepers.  This is why ‘create and burn’ can be a healthy design process. If we are aggressive and even-handed in our destruction and an idea still resolutely remains, then maybe it deserves to stay.

As you move forward with your design it will have a strong backbone of survivors. The ideas that you carried forward will help deliver more focus down the line and have the room to flourish. I guess all this leads us to my final piece of advice at this juncture. After all this talk of destruction, which let’s face it, us humans love, I really should support it with more fiery gusto whilst I have the chance, so here goes: Don’t be afraid to be a cold merciless bastard of an overlord. Design elements and ideas are in your dominion and should be scared shitless of your wrath. If they are not there to serve your cause, then quite frankly, they deserve to die. There you have it. Try not to cling onto something just because you created it. Creation is not always beautiful, so don’t be afraid to wield the knife, or even the torch…and yes it can be more fun if you do it with a crazed look in your eye.

one wheel motorcycle

“Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.” – Voltaire (1694-1778)

The best designers I know are good because they like to get their hands dirty. They are not afraid to try something out to see if it works. They have a healthy attitude toward prototyping. Bad design is thinking you have all the answers and therefore no need for questions.

You know that person in your life who is always the first to say ‘That’ll never work’, well next time they do give them a slap. What’s frustrating is that quite often these people can be extremely intelligent and highly convincing in their arguments as to why you needn’t go further with an idea. And you know what, 90% of the time they may very well be right…on the original point. But you know what is insanely criminal in any kind of design? It’s not allowing exploration, often ideas are the genesis for fantastic and unexpected revelations further down the line. Prototyping is so intertwined with creative thinking that to stunt an idea at its source can severely limit the natural design process. Innovative thought can only occur from action, never inaction. So test out an idea and see what tumbles out, the naysayers might be surprised as to what actually does turn out to work.

Now going back to the traits of the best designers… they will without doubt always have confidence. But not cocky overly assured confidence, true and honest understated confidence. They are open to being wrong and indeed relish the prospect as an opportunity to learn. Being wrong broadens their outlook and opens doors. But on the other hand an unwillingness to be wrong can bring those guilty ultimately to ruin. One path leads to exponential growth in wisdom and experience. The other a linear and narrowing path saddled with a deepening propensity for close mindedness. The moral of the story being; prototype, or be prepared for your final designs to fail a lot more. How is that for irony?

Pieter Bruegel (The Elder) - The Seven Deadly Sins

I hate procrastination. It is the product of the weakest parts of our minds, yet a very strong force. It does its nasty deed in the short and long term and often we do it without even realising. It comes in many different forms, unique to each of us. You might even be doing it now!

What is procrastination? I think of it as anything which prevents us from doing the work that needs to be done. Nothing of value comes for free; we need to put effort in to get the returns. The problem is that the work is often hard and taxing. The part of our mind which concocts acts of procrastination feeds off this prospect.

I clean and tidy when avoiding work. I tell myself “clean and tidy means an unmuddled mind”. To be fair, it’s probably a little bit true, but in my heart of hearts it’s about me shirking from the real work. Let’s face it the world is never going to write “Had a tidy house” on your gravestone. It takes great physical and mental effort to achieve clarity of thought.  But here is the rub, somewhat perversely, it takes very little effort for your mind to concoct clever sabotage when facing exertion.

How to deal with this menace then?  Well self-awareness is a big factor here; you need to recognise the resistance and your acts of procrastination. How many times have you put off going to the gym but once there loved the exercise? Or once you sit down and focus on something literally felt the surge of mental energy run through your body? All it takes is for you to recognise the insidious Gollum like creature sitting inside your head. He craves the act of doing ‘precious’ sweet nothing. But he must be respected for he is cunning and tricksy, wielding procrastination as his greatest spell of all. He’ll try everything to subvert you from doing the work, but banish him you must. All it takes is seeing him for what he really is.

Here are some of my practical tips as a veteran of many battles with the ‘p’ word:

  • Remove yourself from as many distractions as possible (even if it means closing the door to the cat). Distractions are like Piranhas, they’ll keep eating away at you, specifically your will to work.
  • Nike were right; ‘Just do it’. Plonk yourself down and start working. I stared at this notepad for half an hour and faced off my usual nemesis when it comes to writing these articles, that being the rationale “I can’t write the article, I haven’t had the inspiration yet”. Its poppycock, I know it as the voice of my own personal Gollum. So what do I do, I just start writing. That’ll teach the little f*cker.
  • Recognising procrastination is the hardest part. The only way to succeed is to be honest with yourself. Seeing the enemy will help you fight it. It’s one of those weird things where you can catch yourself doing it, sometimes so ingenious that it’ll make me laugh.

We are all guilty of procrastination so no need to feel too bad about it. But I do liken it to the 8th DEADLY SIN, just so you know. Treat it like a game, a battle to outwit yourself, to overcome the cunning schemes of your own Gollum. Good luck fighting the little blighter!