53 to 32: Staying Regular With Brain Dumps

I’ve mentioned it a lot recently, and it’s only because it has been the most predominant thing on my mind for the past two weeks; this “video game concept” thing. I mention it again today, because it’s a good example of how easily distracted I can become when I come up with the Newest Great Idea.
Earlier this month, I did this crazy week-long road trip, 20 hours of driving, and 6 customer visits, in five days. I do so much driving for my job, and all that time alone with my thoughts is most often where the ideas that fill the bottleneck originate.

So I’m driving along a mountain pass in B.C., when I have this vision. I remember reading something Stephen King said about his idea for the novella The Mist. He said that he was at the grocery store, when he suddenly had this image of a pterodactyl crashing through the window and flying down the aisle. The story he wrote just built upon that.

That’s kind of what I experienced while behind the wheel, this vision of a scene from a video game, and by the time I finished that 3 hour leg of my journey, I had most of the game ideas figured out. The rest of that week was spent mentally refining those ideas.

The whole time this is going on, there’s a part of my brain, that ounce of common sense mixed with inner-critic, telling me, “You realize that you don’t have any experience, resources, or contacts in the game development community, right? This is the biggest waste of time, considering you DO have the resources and tools at your disposal to do any of the other projects you want to work on. Why aren’t you putting more effort into your webcast idea, or writing scripts for your comics, you dumb shit?”

And that voice is right. However, I always get irrationally obsessive about the Newest Great Idea, and it almost invariably affects everything else I want to do.

Cut to this past Saturday. I feel like crap; frustrated, grumpy, I want to work on something creative, but nothing’s happening. Mentally constipated. I was trying to find some kind of project planning software, where I could start putting all the pieces together for my game idea, on the off chance I can flesh it out to become a real pitch that I can take to a developer. Nothing that I found was quite what I wanted, and I was letting it get to me.
The wife needed to get some supplies from Office Depot, and I needed to get out of the house, so off we went. On the drive there, I told her about my frustrations, and she suggested, “Why not put all of the ideas down the old-fashioned way, with a pen and paper?”

She’s thinks she’s so fuckin smart. And that’s because she is.

I looked around the Orifice Depot, and found a 5 subject notebook, and some of those elementary school workbooks, the kind where only the bottom half of the pages are lined, and spent the rest of the day mind-mapping my ideas into one of the workbooks.
By Sunday morning, I found that the game was not pushing nearly as hard at the front of my cortex anymore, and I was actually able to work on comics without the Newest Great Idea interfering. It was magical, the most focused I’ve been in a long time. All thanks to a 99 cent workbook, and a wife with a Great Idea of her own.

-I don’t know if this brain-dumping technique is the final piece to the puzzle of enabling me to do more with myself, but I do know I’m going to go buy some more of those workbooks today.


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