Friday, November 20, 2020

Separate Your Two Streaming Selves

Many streamers run into the same tricky problem: they're about to start their show, but at that exact moment, they see something wrong with their channel that needs to be fixed, or a graphic they want to take a crack at redesigning, or they decide they're actually feeling kind of under the weather all of a sudden. Whatever the hangup, all these options lead to the same result: their stream doesn't go live when it's supposed to. As I've mentioned in previous entries, this final moment before broadcasting is when we typically feel the strongest pull not to press the Go Live button. 

This all comes down to that cunning and malevolent internal force residing in all of us, which I've referred to in previous entries as The Enemy. It's a feeling we all get, which takes a thousand different forms, that tries to prevent us from following our life goals. Any time you get sidetracked from streaming, it's because you allowed The Enemy to poison your mind. In the entry How to Get in the Habit of Streaming, I helped you to combat this deadly dream-killing foe by using better organization and discipline throughout your day. The Enemy is tricky though, and it'll constantly surprise you with new ways to stop you from doing what you're supposed to. One of the sneakiest is by making you do the right work at the wrong time, making you feel like you're getting things done, while in reality your habits and efficiency levels, and eventually your channel, all crumble around you. In this entry, I will help you to correctly prioritize your content creation habits by separating your two streaming selves. 


Of all the jobs that get done on a feature film, I've always been most fascinated with the responsibilities of an editor. They take thousands of disparate pieces and assemble them like a puzzle, reorganizing and sometimes essentially rewriting the entire film in the process. Whenever you hear editors in interviews, it's interesting to hear them talk about comedy scenes. Comedy is tough- a joke can be funny when you're reading it off the page, it can be funny when you see the actors perform it on camera, but it can't be funny after you've tweaked the same scene for the thousandth time. It just can't. So how do they judge whether the joke still lands, when they've been watching it over and over again, from a dozen different angles and in a hundred different ways? The usual answer is quite shocking: they don't. The editor typically has to remember that they and the director thought the joke was funny when they first added it, and trust that it's still funny in the end. 

Make your stream 'viewtiful!'

This is very similar to how I try to deal with creative aspirations. In my opinion, none of us are actually qualified to make decisions about our creative goals in the moment. When we sit down to do a stream, or even work on the behind-the-scenes aspects of our streams, we immediately feel something invisible and intangible, pulling us away from our keyboards. We start thinking of any reason, no matter how absurd, not to simply sit down and get our work done. When this happens to me, I try to take a page out of the film editor's handbook. Like the editor trusting their past judgment higher than their current thoughts, I might not feel like doing my stream in this exact moment, but I put trust in my past self's decision to stream and I do the show anyway. No matter what I'm feeling at the time, I follow the track I had laid for myself beforehand. If I still feel like I don't want to stream after the show is over, I tell myself, then I can cancel the next one. But of course, once the stream is finished, I always feel invigorated, and I never have those negative thoughts anymore. I know enough not to trust my 'in the moment self' about these decisions, because it's always the instant right before productivity that the mental roadblocks start coming out. 


As Twitch streamers, I believe there are two separate selves within each of us: the architect and the builder. An architect creates large-scale designs, separated from the day-to-day aspects of putting up walls and hammering nails. A builder, who comes onto the job site once the project is already planned, brings those designs to life. Neither job is more important than the other, because both are required to create a finished structure. But one should never try to do the work of the other. 

Kind of like how you should separate your sewage
plant from the water supply. A mistake I'll never
make again in this game.

The builder doesn't decide what a building looks like, or whether they do his work that day, or make the creative decisions about the work they're doing. The builder's job involves executing on a set of blueprints which are already established. In short, the architect plans, and the builder builds. As a creative person, you must always keep your architect self separated from your builder self. When you're planning your stream, you're the architect. You lay out the schedule, you decide what your channel will be about, and you come up with new ideas for graphics and layouts. But the architect never sits down to create the actual stream. The architect can worry about making decisions and changes once the show is done, but never in the moment. Allowing yourself to stay in architect mode right up until stream time is what causes those last-minute tweaks and changes which turn into hours-long overhaul sessions, delaying or cancelling your shows. When you sit down to do a stream, you should always be the builder. The builder is not allowed to decide whether the stream happens that day, or tweak the graphics, or fiddle around with other top-level creative choices. Those decisions have all been made already. The builder just has to clock in, make the show happen to the best of his or her ability, and clock out. If you're able to identify these two distinct sides of yourself and keep them away from each other, you'll be much more consistent about getting your streams done on time.


The only time when we should be making decisions about our creative goals is when we're not about to work on them. When we're in the planning stage as architects, we're detached. Our visions aren't being warped by lethargy, laziness, last-minute ideas or whatever else might get in the way. When it's time to do our work, we don't get a say. That work simply gets done, and any decisions about changes or fixes can be made after the fact. To stay on top of your aspirations even more effectively, return to the entry 'Fix One Thing About Your Stream Every Day.' Using the techniques to write down channel ideas laid out there, you won't feel as much pressure to make changes in the moment, and your architect self will stay away from your builder self more easily. The writer Elbert Hubbard once said, "Self-discipline is the ability to make yourself do what you should do, when you should do it, whether you feel like it or not." And when you separate your two streaming selves, you'll see just how much that self-discipline improves your streams.

No comments:

Post a Comment