Friday, March 11, 2022

Make Your Streaming Dream Come True


Do you have any streaming dreams? Maybe they involve trying a new idea, or designing something for your graphics layout. Maybe you simply want to become more consistent with your show schedule. Or if you haven’t started yet, you want to begin streaming in the first place. Whatever the ambition, what are you doing right now to make your streaming dream come true? 


One of my favorite Seinfeld jokes is brilliant in its simplicity. Jerry and George are in the locker room at their gym, and across the room they spot the baseball player Keith Hernandez. As they nervously wonder whether they should go up and introduce themselves, Jerry tells George about how smart Keith Hernandez is outside of baseball: “You know, he’s a civil war buff.” George looks wistful and says, “I’d love to be a civil war buff.” 

It’s such an absurd thing to say, almost an oxymoron. It’s of course completely in one’s own power whether they become a buff, enthusiast or hobbyist- all they have to do is engage in their hobby. And yet, most prospective streamers think the same way George does. Instead of simply doing the thing they’re interested in, they wish they cared enough to actually try. 

Here’s the thing about following a dream like streaming: Doing it badly isn’t the problem. Having an ugly looking channel isn’t the issue either. Neither is sitting down, only to find you can’t muster up the energy to go live. The biggest problem when following a streaming dream occurs before you even sit down to do the work. Our minds work against us, and convince us that it’s not even worth attempting in the first place. Like two magnets repelling each other, the closer you get to the chair where you might sit down to start creating, the less you want to actually sit down. We’ve all felt it when facing some important project in our lives. Sometimes it’s a random chore, any chore, that conveniently pops into your head when you’re just about to get to work. Or maybe you realize you’re tired and want to go to sleep, or relax by watching netflix. I’ve even felt nausea when trying to sit down on certain days, not because I was sick, but specifically at the moment when I had to face the prospect of actually doing my work. 

But if you can take that one massive step, and sit down to get started, the work will begin to flow. It doesn’t seem to make sense, but trust me. There’s some kind of magic in sitting down and simply doing anything in the direction of your goal. As others who paint, work out, or clean their houses could tell you, merely starting by saying, “I’ll only do a little bit today,” is likely to snowball until suddenly you’ve accomplished more than you ever expected.


Fight for what you believe in.

This strategy comes in handy for me all the time. One of the biggest hurdles it helps me with is The Twitch Playbook. Every week, after the newest episode has come out and it’s time for me to start on the next, I think there’s nothing left in the tank. After more than 150 episodes, I can’t imagine what else I could possibly write about. It feels like a completely hopeless endeavor to come up with something new, and even sitting down to write strikes me as a huge waste of time. I’ll come up with any excuse in the world not to do it. I’ll shift my entire calendar to put off the podcast writing time slot until later, and then when the time comes I’ll shift it again. It’s not an exaggeration to say that every single week there’s a point where I think that the previous Twitch Playbook entry might end up being the last. 

But of course, this is all in my head. As soon as I sit down and start putting words on the page- any words, even if they’re terrible and never make it into the entry- those fears begin to go away. Once I stand up 15-30 minutes later, I have only the roughest concept of what the new entry will be, but I’ll already feel confident that I’m on the right track. Because at that point the hardest part, just forcing myself to get started, is over. 

Based on how much I love streaming, and how consistent I am when doing it, you might imagine the same doesn’t happen to me when trying to go live. And you’d be partly right. Most days, I’m thrilled to stream. I look forward to it during the monotony of a long day, or simply can’t wait to pick up where I left off in my current game. But sure enough, bad days will always come. Maybe I’ve been out all day and I’m incredibly tired, or I’m so stressed about something else I need to do that I don’t think I’ll have time to stream. Or maybe, if it’s a creative stream where I make art, I’m nervous I’m going to ruin the piece with whatever I add. But just like with The Twitch Playbook, I force myself to simply sit down and start doing something. I go through the motions of setting up my show. I tell myself, “It’s okay not to do a full-length episode today, and it’s even okay if the show isn’t as good as it normally is. Just get through it. Doing anything is better than nothing.” 

And when I lower my expectations that way, the magic kicks in. As soon as I spend a few minutes on the air, or even setting up the show before going live, I begin to feel the energy come back. My other problems melt away, and I can simply exist in the present. I can enjoy each part of the task for what it is, without any expectations, fears or regrets. 

Whatever your streaming dreams are, whether you want to add new game styles to your offering, create visual overhauls, or even just get started on Twitch, think about the moment before doing your work as the climb of a roller coaster. The car is slowly pulling itself uphill, the fears begin to rise within you, and oftentimes you can’t see where the track beyond the hill’s crest is going to lead. But once you get yourself over that ledge, the work begins picking up speed. And before you know it, the anxiety about the climb is forgotten and fun is the only thing you’re thinking about. So sit down and start working, even if you tell yourself it’s only going to be for a minute or two. Your streaming dreams might start coming together quicker than you think. 

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