Joyconjurer Ep 9 - Gathering Your Creative Party


Sir Joyconjurer,

I have a most perilous quest for which I ask the guidance of your mystical joycon touch and magically resplendent mind.

For years now, I have been chasing an elusive dragon: I call it "Creativity". Now, I know this seems a tale you've heard before, many a soul wandering to your abode, struggling to find the big C. My problem is precisely the opposite; I can't get rid of creativity! While I acknowledge this is a problem of the wealthy elite (and a good problem if it's one of the only ones you're dealing with), I am stuck and stagnant under the immense weight of possibility.

I've been struggling for a couple years with the process of filtering and choosing the tasks from Creativity that are meaningful to me, that help to further my personal and professional growth, and that are actually achievable. I am sitting on a veritable treasure trove of half-finished and barely started projects, and it only makes me miserable with the enormity of the task of trimming it down. My inquiry to you, Sir, is this: how can I evaluate the backlog of creative endeavors? And do you have any filtering procedures I can implement to guard against the future shame and regret of projects unfinished?

The creative process isn't just about finishing a project. No idea, no half-finished project is a waste. Having a lot of ideas is a good thing, and I encourage you to find satisfaction in it, instead of treating every new idea as a potential point of failure and shame.

Allow yourself to take joy from the art of having new ideas, of tooling around with them for a time, and of moving on. Embrace it, accept it, and honor it; it is your gift. If you find some ideas that are worth taking further, but question whether you have the discipline or tools to fully execute on them alone, it's time to gather a party before venturing forth.

I think a lot about party-based CRPGs. Over time, parties have lost their prominence in favor of the individual protagonist. We see similar trends across mediums. Films prioritize auteurs. TV shows have entered the era of the showrunner. The idea of a brilliant, disciplined individual who accomplishes everything through sheer hard work and force of will is an ambient hum throughout our media. For better and for worse, we absorb it all of the time, until we start to measure ourselves against this standard and inevitably find ourselves lacking. It's a short walk from there to shame and stagnation.

It becomes easy to forget the synergy of a good party. CRPGs have DPS, healers, tanks, and controllers. You are an idea person, the DPS of creative endeavors, and would benefit from a team of project managers, connectors, and workers. A project manager can help organize a project, set goals and deadlines, and keep everything moving forward. A connector can build team cohesion and gather outside resources. A worker has the skill and know-how to get things done. You'll need most—if not all—of these roles to realize the best of any project. Heck, even another idea person could help you evolve and develop your inspirations.

There are undoubtedly people in your life who are exceptional at getting things done, who are organized in ways you are not, who are eager to assist on creative projects but do not have your gift for ideas. Alone, these people are likely feeling every bit as lost and discouraged as you are.

Find them. Build your party.

Discovering which role comes naturally to you is key, so you're already a step ahead, but also look for areas where you can cross-spec so you can be a valuable component of the team even when your role isn't being directly called upon. In other words, don't be afraid to be an off-tank or snag a healing spell to round out your versatility. Ultimately, though, you'll want to be clear headed about your strengths and weaknesses and match yourself to people who will compliment you.

I encourage you to share your ideas with your friends. See if something sparks their excitement. Start with a party of two, and see who else gets on board. Accept that some projects might fizzle, but keep working on pulling together a team with the right alchemy. When a well-balanced party embraces the right project, that's when the magic happens.

The beauty comes as a community is built and enriched from making something together. Even artistic disciplines we think of as solitary need communities to thrive. A writer needs an editor and a publisher, and the publisher needs a social media expert to spread the word. A painter needs a gallery owner, who also needs an event coordinator to put together a killer opening.

Of course, the prospect of a party can be hard for idea people because it means letting go of the ownership of an idea, and being open to others who will shape how it evolves. If this makes you balk, then you can try to pick the path of the auteur. Party-based CRPGs can still be solo'd on nightmare difficulty.

But, dear reader, everything's better with friends.

As always, you can also send your quandaries to [email protected]. I look forward to hearing from you!


Great advice!

Reminding us that most creativity is collaborative is a huge relief -- it takes away the pressure to be able to do (and be good at) everything.

I'm often astonished when I hear film directors talk about projects that started as ideas 15, 20 years before the film is made ... impressive that they nurse a creative dream for so long, keeping it alive until they could get the right combination of people and money to make it happen.

Great article! I know from my own personal experience how rewarding working with a great group can be. A long time ago I worked in the video game industry, but left due to burnout and impostor syndrome. For the next almost 20 years, I kept making games as a hobby, starting one project, doing some coding, then watching a bunch of tutorials on how to do the art or music before moving on to a different idea.

But because it was always solo work, I never finished anything, and never was a part of anything. Then I had the chance to participate in a few Global Game Jam's with my local gamedev meetup. There a few of us formed together to make a team, and build something together that was far beyond my expectations. I amazed them with my coding, they amazed me with their ideas, their art, their sound and their passion. It was a great experience which showed what I had been missing all those years, trying to do things all by myself.