If you’re trying to figure out what to do with your life, look back to your past. What have you always loved doing?
Chevy Ray Johnston is an indie game developer. And it seems he was born to do it! Chevy’s been into games of all kinds since he was a kid. Over time, he mastered his craft and developed FlashPunk, a free ActionScript 3 library designed for developing 2D Flash games (If you don’t understand what that is, that’s OK—listen to the episode), which is used by many other game developers. It catapulted Chevy into the spotlight and into a career he’d only dreamed of to this point. Pretty amazing stuff.
I wasn’t confident to apply and go to university, I wasn’t confident that I could figure out how to solve all the paperwork and I wouldn’t go into horrible debt—that was all lack of confidence—but, I guess over the years the more I succeeded and the more things kind of went my way with what I was doing, I just built up confidence.”— Chevy Ray Johnston, indie game developer
What I loved about this episode was Chevy’s generosity in sharing his creative process. Becoming a disciplined artist or creative person is half the battle, and Chevy’s clearly been working at it.
Let’s talk about confidence and how you can get more of it
Let’s be real—most of us have confidence issues. When it comes to creative work, we never feel good enough. That’s a good thing and a bad thing. You’ll continue to work hard and get better, but you have to fight resistance the whole way. And while you get good, you have to be okay with raised eyebrows, people’s uneducated and educated opinions, and rejection. I’m told the payoff is worth it, though.
I’m not a fan of the “fake it until you make it” mantra, unless it applies to confidence. I don’t think we should fake doing or being anything, but if you visibly lack confidence, people won’t take you seriously. Sometimes, you have to turn on what Chevy calls Charismatic Mode to get through scary situations.
It’s hard to turn that [Charismatic Mode] off sometimes because people respond to it so much and so well. You get hired, people give you money, you get more friends…but it’s not that genuine so sometimes you have to be careful not to let that ‘confidence’ really get to your head.”—Chevy Ray Johnston, indie game developer
Turning Charismatic Mode off can be tough. There’s this weird transition where you start to love your work more than hate it, but you still fear humiliation. Also, shedding your false confidence requires becoming more like you which as we all know is the toughest job of all.
How can you gain confidence?
- Practice. Whether you believe it takes 10,000 hours to master your craft or not, you have to practice if you want to become good at something.
- Be humble. The worst thing you can do as a creative is to attach ego to your work, because you’ll take rejection personally and you won’t use feedback to improve. Be okay with never being perfect and also know that someday your work might be perfect…to someone.
- Discipline. Motivation to consistently produce work can be really hard, maybe even the hardest thing about creating. You have to build habits and hold yourself accountable every day. No excuses. Treat creating like you would any other job and show up.
I think we all have good days and bad days, but learning to love your work or at least love doing your work will help you build confidence in what you produce. Treat your work like the priority it is and give it value.
Now, the fun stuff—want to learn how to become a game developer?
Props to Chevy for sharing so many great resources for wannabe developers. If you’re thinking of trying it out, start with some of these:
And be sure to check out all Chevy’s work, especially the recently release Ikenfell game! Watch a video about Ikenfell below. And, follow him on Twitter to stay updated with all the cool sh*t he does!