This is going to sound a little odd..

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TheLongRoad
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This is going to sound a little odd..

#1 Post by TheLongRoad » Wed Oct 19, 2016 11:13 am

I apologize in advance if this post isn't in the right forum, and if it comes across as kind of pathetic.

I've been 'writing a visual novel' for almost four years now. I've started, scrapped, reworked, and rewritten a half dozen projects. None of them have come even close to being finished. Every time I try to pick myself up and start again, it gets harder. When I try to push through an art or writing block, I break down crying. My creative anxiety is so bad now, I feel like I'll never be able to finish a project.

I've been working with a therapist, and right now I'm developing skills to help me handle my anxiety, and my inner critic. It's been hard, especially since my friends don't really get why I can't just get over it, but I'm doing better now than I was.

I guess what I'm looking for is a friend? Somebody who understands how difficult the creative process can be? Who knows what it's like to feel as if nothing you make will ever be worth sharing? It would be amazing to have somebody optimistic to talk to and share ideas with. We could get really invested in one another's projects, and encourage one another...I know this is probably a long shot, but if somebody out there wants to be my anchor, I'll find a way to pay you back.

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Re: This is going to sound a little odd..

#2 Post by PetPeeve » Wed Oct 19, 2016 11:26 am

I feel you. Really, I do.

It took me four years and a lot of effort to get to a point where I could even ask for other people to join the team and help me, and now I stress out that what I'm writing is terrible and not worthy of being made into a game with all these great people.

I don't really have great advice on this front, just the comfort of knowing you aren't the only one getting anxious about these things I guess.

I feel like I should say I'm not as depressing as I may have sounded in this post. My team is great and everyone is super supportive and it's really helped. So yeah, I'm happy to talk if you need =)
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Re: This is going to sound a little odd..

#3 Post by Taranee » Wed Oct 19, 2016 1:19 pm

I've also been writing a visual novel for about three years. I've never been more committed to a project, but I still feel like it's never going to be finished, and if it does, it'll probably turn out to be embarrassingly bad garbage that everyone will hate. That thought hurts, because the story is very personal for me. It's hard to distance myself from my writing, so if the story got judged by people, I would also feel judged. Previously I've written novels during NaNoWriMo and otherwise, but I've never finished anything or let anyone read my work.

When I think the visual novel is nearing completion, I usually get a new idea that changes a major part of the story. I've for example added half a dozen new characters and their subplots, added a new PoV character and written 10 chapters for her, decided that the old antagonist is just a decoy and added a new villain mastermind (twice), and changed the core motivations of half of the cast, including the protagonist. A lot of this is admittably the result of poor planning, but I can't plot out an entire visual novel beforehand and then write it exactly as planned.

I've also re-drawn all the sprites (about 10 characters) for my visual novel seven times. Even though I like to draw, I'm a terrible amateur artist. However, I don't want to commission a better artist, because I don't want to subject anyone to my ever-changing opinions on what the sprites should look like.

The way I deal with creative anxiety is that I focus on writing just for the sake of writing. A lot of people, especially non-writers, think it's crazy, but I enjoy writing visual novels even more than reading them. Unless you want to make money with your stories, it's not so bad if your projects take a long time to complete or never get completed. A lot of hobbies that people have don't result in a finished product that can be shown to other people, but it doesn't lessen their importance. Writing is a passion, a lifestyle, and a way of expressing yourself. The journey is more important than the destination.

Another important thing I've had to learn is blocking plot bunnies that try to distract you from your current project and get you to start writing a different story. When I come up with an intrusive idea for a new story, I write down a plot synopsis and a short description of the characters and choice mechanics, but I promise to myself I won't start actually writing the new story until the current project is done. This way I won't forget about the new ideas, but I also don't get so impatient that I have to abandon the old project.

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Re: This is going to sound a little odd..

#4 Post by indoneko » Wed Oct 19, 2016 2:49 pm

@TheLongRoad : You can try advertising your project ideas in WIP subforum; it might pique some interest from fellow writers (who will help you with your project)
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Re: This is going to sound a little odd..

#5 Post by ludeshka » Fri Oct 21, 2016 4:08 pm

Hey there.

I think the first thing you have to keep in mind is that life is not a race. It doesn't matter if you finish your vn fast. It really doesn't.

Another thing that might be keeping you in tangles is perfectionism. Don't overdo things. Be like Elsa, let it go. :)

Don't compare yourself to others. Compare yourself with yourself. When you finish your first project, you'll have the satisfaction to know that you CAN finish things.
And since it will be imperfect (because it will be! because it always is!) you will also have the challenge to outdo yourself. To make the next one even better.

I think that one thing that could work for you is to join a jam, a challenge.
Ignore the big big story you've been working on and make a small story. Like, make an adaptation of a fairytale or something. A small project you're not overly attached to and so you won't feel overly "threatened" by. (I mean threatened as in "I don't know if I can do it justice!")

I'm super old (33!) so it would be awkward of me to offer myself to be your friend, and I'm one of the worst programmers in here, so I can't give much advice on Ren´py.
But you can always hit me up if you need a couple of backgrounds. I'm still not confident with them and I need more practice. :)

I think there's a lot of really friendly people here at Lemma, so you will be able to make friends easily

But first of all, befriend yourself, yes? :)

I hope I'll hear about you and your projects soon.

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Re: This is going to sound a little odd..

#6 Post by LateWhiteRabbit » Fri Oct 21, 2016 4:28 pm

Don't feel bad. It took Leonardo Da Vinci years and years to finish the Mona Lisa, and it's not interactive or branching and only has a single character!

I would say not to let it worry you too much - anxiety tends to hurt creativity. And all creative people have spent years on a project. Even the famous ones. Listen to this quote from Ira Glass. Take it to heart. And create. For yourself.

Welcome to Lemmasoft, TheLongRoad!

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Re: This is going to sound a little odd..

#7 Post by Mammon » Mon Oct 24, 2016 10:55 am

Sorry if this post might seem a bit short and shallow, but I spend about an hour writing a proper one and found out that I logged out of Lemmasoft while writing it only after hitting that 'submit' button. The one time I don't copy the post before submitting it and the exact thing I fear happens. Poof! Whole post gone...

@TheLongRoad I know how you feel. I just spend a year and a half on a passion project of mine with a near neurotic desire to make it perfect beyond what I can actually do. I managed to release it, but I can relate to the thought of never getting yourself to do so or rewriting it endlessly. While I never actually broke down crying and probably can't compare my hardships to yours, I can tell you this: It's not as bad as you think it will be. Lemmasoft is not a dark place filled with trolls and haters, the other comments can tell you as much. If you put your soul and effort into a project, people will appreciate it.

And trust me, getting bad reviews and people telling you they didn't like your work won't be as bad as you think it will be. Sure, you won't like it, but you'll be able to use it to better your future works. And any positive feedback you get will give you an idea where your strong points are and what doesn't need improving.

No, the worst thing that could happen is if you were to release your VN and no one, absolutely no one, would comment on it. At that point, you'll wish to get a rant about your work so you know someone actually gave it a chance. (Sorry if this sounds super sceptical and worrying, it was worded better in the original post) What I'm trying to say: Don't release your game in the 'Demo's and Beta section' without advertising it beforehand like I did.

@Taranee, are you my mental dopplergänger? The way you wrote your post isn't just eerily similar to how I write (at least from my perspective), but it's essentially exactly what I planned on writing. You even used the word 'synopsis', which is the exact word I've been using for my summaries of stories yet to be written.
Another important thing I've had to learn is blocking plot bunnies that try to distract you from your current project and get you to start writing a different story. When I come up with an intrusive idea for a new story, I write down a plot synopsis and a short description of the characters and choice mechanics, but I promise to myself I won't start actually writing the new story until the current project is done. This way I won't forget about the new ideas, but I also don't get so impatient that I have to abandon the old project.
Pretty much exactly this. I have the rule not to start with a new project before finishing the old one (a rule I only broke once), and a synopsis really helps to determine whether your story has some massive plot holes or writing blocks. They are much easier resolved in a synopsis too, when you don't actually have to write down something others will eventually have to read. And it will allow you to determine whether your enthousiasm for your new story won't seep away after a while, leaving you wondering why you even wanted to write such a crappy story to begin with.
When I think the visual novel is nearing completion, I usually get a new idea that changes a major part of the story. I've for example added half a dozen new characters and their subplots, added a new PoV character and written 10 chapters for her, decided that the old antagonist is just a decoy and added a new villain mastermind (twice), and changed the core motivations of half of the cast, including the protagonist. A lot of this is admittably the result of poor planning, but I can't plot out an entire visual novel beforehand and then write it exactly as planned.
I had the exact same problem. There are so many scenes and endings that I added to the original story and even my main character was rewritten to his core elements at least three times, before I managed to stop rewriting everything. The best tip I can give against this is to spend some time with a really tedious task you need to do. For me, this was coding the sprites&expressions for a scene. I used such a terribly archaic and inefficient system for this, a single scene would take me hours of mind-numbing labour. But after that, I never considered scrapping or completely rewriting that scene, because the thought of 'It's not good enough!' turned into 'Like hell I'm throwing away all that work! I spend three hours on those stupid expressions, I'm not doing that again with a completely new scene!'

The best advice I can give you is one already given by @ludeska:
Don't compare yourself to others. Compare yourself with yourself. When you finish your first project, you'll have the satisfaction to know that you CAN finish things.
And since it will be imperfect (because it will be! because it always is!) you will also have the challenge to outdo yourself. To make the next one even better.
Never reach for that perfect VN with >100.000 words, breathtaking art and stunning coding that you'll never make, start with a small project. If I could give myself two years in the past one tip, it's to make that campy short VN I thought off before starting anything big I'd put my soul into. Not only to get get some experience of the process, but also so people know you exist.
Oh, and don't play any good VN while making your own, you'll compare them to your own or think you'll have to match their level. I played 'Seduce me', saw that their mouths were open whenever they spoke and thought 'I can do that too!'. Two more months of work right there, doing my least favorite part of the job.
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Re: This is going to sound a little odd..

#8 Post by Root13 » Thu Nov 03, 2016 8:48 am

For me it is also hard to find an inspiration for creativity, but I have noticed, when you just sit down and start, the further process is going much easier)

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Re: This is going to sound a little odd..

#9 Post by Lesleigh63 » Thu Nov 03, 2016 9:40 pm

I also recommend doing something small - maybe limit yourself before even writing it (1 sprite, 3 backgrounds, 10,000 words).
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Re: This is going to sound a little odd..

#10 Post by juunishi master » Tue Nov 15, 2016 12:06 am

I can say that (feeling) not being able to finish a thing is painful.

Before I decided to try making VN, I (try to) write novels. I never satisfied with the end result if I--somehow--managed to finish them and most of the time, I just stop and try to rewrite in the middle of writing it, which leads to another unfinished WIP. :| Not cool, me, not cool.

I can say I'm still struggling with my tendency to start new project I feel more interesting/better than the one I'm currently working. Fortunately, I have a friend that keep landing (imaginary) smack on my head whenever I stray away from my project. She's not criticizing or suggesting this and that. She just smack me and yell "FOCUS!".

These points are questionable whether it's applicable or not, but maybe it could help:

- Try not to show unfinished work.
Showing unfinished work to a friend whose critics are actually useful could be frustrating too. You haven't reached the end of the story and they point something that you plan to explain in the next chapter. From my experience so far, it's tiring to reply them with "it'd be explained later in chapter x" or taking self-note which reads "add this/explain this/change this/edit this". You already have your inner editor to deal with, so let's keep your friend's suggestion/critics for later.

- Working with other people (?!)
If you work with someone with passion, his/her/their passion will somehow drag you to keep moving forward doing your part of works. Especially if they clearly show that they appreciate your work. It's a way better motivation than compilation of internet motivational quotes.

- Try a "lesser" work
It could be writing a shorter story. Something funny, something not that important, not too ambitious. Or if you're an artist/programmer, you can do the drawing/programming with other people doing the story, so you don't think much about the story (reading other people's story is fun too).

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Re: This is going to sound a little odd..

#11 Post by unicodepepper » Tue Nov 15, 2016 11:26 am

Finishing a project is more important than making it completely perfect. Your first one will suck. The second one too. But with time, and feedback from the people who play them, you'll be able to perfect them.

Don't be afraid of using a great idea and making a sucky project out of it. Really. You're going to have great ideas all the time. It's okay to release a non-perfect but finished project; finishing it is what matters.

Also, most great VN artists, especially indie ones, start out with sucky projects, so you don't have to worry about that :D

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Re: This is going to sound a little odd..

#12 Post by asatiir » Fri Dec 02, 2016 7:33 am

What you're going through sounds rough, but you're not alone in this. As many others here mentioned, making smaller games could help out. I made an entire write up to help in keeping focus on a project on a different thread that could help.

If you want to look at smaller scaled games to see what you want to make, you can always take inspiration from a lot VNs and text adventure games out there, there's a good amount of free ones on itch.io that you can try out. You could try making a kinetic novel just to get yourself in the mindset of making them quicker or even prototype them as a text adventure using Twine before making it a VN.

Don't give up and don't be hard on yourself, making any game in any scale isn't easy, so even if you're struggling to make any at all it's still commendable that you're trying.
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