“What? … You’re talking about a game?”
I promise it’s relevant to creative blocks—being an artist, hobbyist, or anything that requires some kind of creative process and want or need to feel validated in what you do.
Please note that the following words are my own straight-forward, yet loose, interpretation of the game—whether it just be the creator’s self-commentary or allegory, or whatever! This whole post is meant to be encouraging in the end. 🙂 But I do apologize if I seem scatterbrained.
So, The Beginner’s Guide is a game created by Davey Wreden who, as said above, is the creator of the renown The Stanley Parable. Both games are interactive, narrative walking simulators. The Beginner’s Guide is rather emotional and bittersweet, unlike its somewhat dark yet very humorous predecessor. It’s deep and thought-provoking, especially for anyone who experiences struggles with themselves on a creative level.
It will hit pretty close to home for most if they are willing to see past the fact it’s indeed a simple walking simulator and not say it’s just a pretentious output from the creator’s end. In my opinion, it’s far from pretentious—its someone using a particular medium to express themselves and share these expressions with others, even if they happen to be only strangers or users.
So, in the game, there’s a man the narrator refers to as “Coda”—Coda is a game developer who has his struggles that are talked about throughout the game. Without delving too deep into the story, I can say that I am personally similar to Coda. I create things. I doodle things. A lot of it is quite random and whatever I really feel at the time. I share my scribbles and mindless sketches with everyone. But the pieces that are generally “close” or important to me, I share them with one or two people—at times no one—and maybe dump it into my portfolio without a word said to anyone else.
I’m usually a cheery and composed person with high tendencies of shyness. I often sweep this shyness under the rug very often because my career calls for it. When it comes to the things I create—or my hobbies in general—they’re usually just as bright and cheery, but boy am I self-conscious about it.
There is never a time that being who I am as an artist, the subject matter of what I’m drawing, followed up by my reasons for creating these things, is simple and fun. I don’t always “love it 100% of the time”. It’s never simple and fun 100% of the time. That is how life is: up and down. The beauty comes from perseverance. The love comes from how much work you’re willing to put into it. There are no shortcuts.
On the flipside, I am also the narrator, Davey. I want to share what I did, so I did whenever I could, but felt anxious about it because I cared too much about what it all meant and how others would judge me by my art. Creating is already hard work by itself and you can only hold yourself accountable for what you create. I overthought and overanalyzed what I worked on that I became afraid, stymying myself into learning much slower and less than my usually peppy self would.
I was so wrapped up in the idea of drawing what everyone wanted to see rather than what I wanted to see. As there is truly no problem with that, because when it’s your job it’s only expected of you; it was a problem when it came down to my personal art because I was warping my own expression to please others. It was when I got rid of that mentality and cared less about judging eyes, the frequency of creative blocks lessened.
Yet, no matter what I do, no matter how great a day I’m having, life just isn’t perfect and my creativity will plateau or I feel like I’ve become complacent. There’s always a period of change and it’s usually during this period of change where people tend to feel a little lost and stuck, and go on a search for validation. It’s only human to feel like you need validation. Everyone wants to feel like they’re doing something good. I mean, how do you know if you’re doing something good unless someone says what you are doing is, in fact, good?
You never really know what you’re doing is really worthwhile. It’s something to fear but something to embrace, as long as you don’t lose sight of yourself and stay true to who you are.
So I am always grateful to those who have supported me through my career—it helped me grow and change as an artist and understand why I do what I do and reminds me of why I love sharing my art so much and why it means a lot to me that I do.
It’s not that I feel like I need to make things to please them, it’s the fact that they love me for who I am no matter what I create. If I didn’t have these people, where would I go? They are my inspiration.
But just remember that it’s ok to be human and that you aren’t alone. 🙂