John Mayer came to Berklee to talk with the music students there. One quote stood out to me:
“I can’t stress enough how important it is to write bad songs. There’s a lot of people who don’t want to finish songs because they don’t think they’re any good. Well they’re not good enough. Write it! I want you to write me the worst songs you could possible write me because you won’t write bad songs. You’re thinking they’re bad so you don’t have to finish it. That’s what I really think it is. Well it’s all right. Well, how do you know? It’s not done!”
The quote reminds me of the unfinished game projects written in GW-BASIC that littered the diskettes of my childhood. I would start to write a new game, driven by an unrealistic vision in my head. Then after I’d made the menu and a few lines of the main loop, the initial burst of excitement would subside. The reality of the hard work necessary to make any progress and the immaturity of my skill set were insurmountable.
Rather than finish something terrible or try a smaller project, I’d accumulate these stillborn games. My embryonic ideas never got the chance to develop. And so my talents remained relatively stillborn themselves until I gained the self-discipline necessary to follow through.
In order to make something great, you usually have to make a lot of bad things first. And while everyone wants to make awesome things, few have the patience and persistence to slog through the necessity of first making the awful things.