Dealing with "artist's block"

Dec 18, 2021 at 11:33 pm by nemirc

Working as a solo developer, or as a developer of a small team, making moderately-sized projects (except for “Just Let Me Go”… That game feels like it’s taking forever), sometimes it can be very stressful, and sometimes I can feel stuck, like the project is not moving fast enough, specially when you are in a situation in life when you really need things to move forward for different reasons (because your life priorities change, or because your life has taken a different turn and you need to take on other things on top of game development, among others).

In my case, this is the reason why I tend to work on smaller projects (projects that take less than a year to finish). Of course, smaller projects mean less revenue, but at least it means a better “margin of mobility” to do other things, or face certain situations, as I can still finish the project while dealing with other things.

But sometimes that’s not the case. Sometimes I’m either working on a bigger project, or I need to start a new task (sometimes unrelated to game development) and that makes things a little bit complicated. This is the point when the “artist block” happens and the anxiety comes too.

One of the things I do, is always to take one day off during the week and stay away from the computer. When you have a lot of stuff to do, it may feel like time is wasted, but it’s useful to take the mind off work sometimes.

Another thing I do is alternate tasks. I do a lot of things other than game development, so usually I can jump between tasks. That makes me “switch gears” so to speak, and makes my brain think of other things. Besides, some of those tasks make me money faster than others, so that’s a plus. Of course, this is difficult if you’re a full-time artist. An alternative is to have a side-activity (preferably different than your main task, so no “I make 3D models for a living and I make my personal 3D models on my spare time”). Of course, I keep a schedule for these (that can be adjusted depending on the needs), so I know what to do every day.

One of my problems is sometimes I feel I need to get “everything done” because “everything is important.” When this happens, I make a full stop and then I see everything I have on my plate, and start prioritizing. Yes, this needs to be done, and this other thing needs to be done, but which one needs to be done “now” and which one can wait? That’s something I find myself doing a lot of the time.

You often find memes that go something like “person A says ‘just relax’ and person B says ‘woah why didn’t I think about it!?” and they are meant to take a jab at those “advices” people tell you when you are nervous or anxious, but they have a greater meaning when you consider “artist block” and “the anxiety that may follow” can or cannot be avoided depending on your personality. Personally, I think the next best thing you can do is find different ways to deal with them to mitigate the situations.

I hope this was useful!


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