Blockades - The Beast

When stories become epics.

Transferred by Melissa Devlin on May 10th, 2023

It happens to everyone. The small project explodes into a giant project – or the back end wasn’t actually that small. What now?

That familiar stress, the burn, the urge to just be done is intense. As crazy as it sounds, having too much to do can stall us into doing nothing. And nothing says "too much" than a project that just keeps getting bigger, more complicated, more involved with every note you scrap together. A beast.

On the one hand, great, we've got something different, something to communicate, whether it's a game, a sculpture, a book, or any other creative endeavor. On the other, bloody hell, exactly when will that be? Because I'm not getting any younger.

And therein lies the problem. As a culture we are addicted to the clock, whether it be an unconscious need to account for our time, the pressure of deadlines, or even the waning patience of your boss or worse audience. And no matter how many ways you look at it, you only have one choice to get it all done. Take more time.  

Pushing back release dates, the rest of the development team, the expectations of fans or the demands of a boss is not our favorite thing to do. And it only gets worse the bigger your name is. How impatient have games been for an expansion that has been announced? How much frustration have been declared by George. R. R. Martin fan's? The poor guy couldn't put out a post about a football game without an outcry that he should have spent night and day writing till is done. (Or was should the last one be out by the time you see this)

Which is where reality and expectations smack against each other. The creative flow does not turn on like a tap, last in a steady stream for eight hours and then knock of for the evening. Indeed most writers can only squeeze two hours of actual writing out of their soul on a semi daily basis. Provided they don't get lock out.

Game designers have the same problems, there is a big gap between coming up with a concept and putting it to code, and it is inevitable some great ideas will sneak into the development phase, and some stalls. You can try to hold back announcements, but then fans will pester you for word on what you are doing next.

Put in that light, I'm somewhat relieved that I've started off slowly in peace and quiet with only the occasional nagging of friends who want to see my work in print, or at least be able to read it. But it didn’t change the ticking bomb inside me that says "I have to finish something this year."  

Since I finished six first drafts of six different books in the last twelve months? That’s gotten weird now. But no less frustrating that I have six second drafts to craft now – and that will take significantly longer than a year as it’s: Three in “The Bookstore” - started in 2019; two in “The Immortal Empire” - technically started in 2011, and One in “Legends of the Gods” - started in 2009.  

The first two series were actually supposed to be one book each – but upon finishing I learnt I had overdone it by just a tad. Hence the example of “The Beast”.

So what to do? Is it really as simple as pushing back dates and ducking under the radar as much as possible while you just slog it out one step at a time?  

Frankly, yes.
Well, no.
It depends.

Accept that there are times in your life that are perfect for an intense burst of creation, a week off to yourself with no TV, movies, friends or other distractions, a lull between other projects, a shift in your concentration that seems to be a gift from whatever god heard your prayer.


With that you need to accept there are times that are the opposite. The holidays, moving, a heavy workload, social events or, according to the internet, the season finale of a show the swept everyone up in a super craze.


Quit measuring yourself against other people. I went to collage just before I was sixteen, wahoo, I took seven years to finish, oh well. Life balances out. Some people have a kick start early in their careers some people (points to mirror) need a lot of time to develop and understand who they are as an artist and what they want to produce.  

Some authors publish at 18 and then some of those never put anything else out. And then there are those in their eighties getting their first book in print. It may have seemed to take forever, but they end up on top because they gave us hope that everything happens, when? In it's own sweet time. I told you we are addicted to the clock. Throw it out.

To go places and do things that have never been done before – that’s what living is all about.

 a) Be reasonable with your own expectations.
b) Start every project with the knowledge the game will change.
c) Be ready to adapt to market changes.
d) Don't bother to plan a rigid timetable. If you need one for work account for flex time.
e) Be prepared to accommodate known stressors and delays.
f) If you have a super fast period don't announces how much you've done, just enjoy the breathing room.
g) Be prepared for slow periods and don't get discouraged by them.
h) Overestimate how long things will take.
i) Only make lists if you find them encouraging and are far enough along to have a clue of what you need.
j) Don't expect to stick to the list.
k) If you are non-linear, work in whatever order you like.
l) Don't give up.
m) Don't panic and carry a towel.

Well maybe not the towel bit.

Other than that, it really is, one step at a time, bird by bird, sentence by sentence, headache by headache, cups of tea in streams and maybe a nice glass of something celebratory when you hit a milestone. (I like Trader Joe’s Sugar Plum Sparkling Beverage)

In short; if you can, throw out the timetable, ignore the pestering to finish and attempt to enjoy the journey. If you can't, be reasonable with what you can do. And just keep chipping at the marble.

Now breath.