Saturday, June 11, 2022

Build a Better Streaming Habit

If you’re trying to start a Twitch channel, you may find things are getting a bit rocky. For many of us starting out, we can’t bring ourselves to do the shows consistently for more than a few days in a row. Like trying to start a campfire, you might find you can generate sparks but can’t get a flame going. This inability to stick to the plan may come from an unexpected place. You may be trying to stream the right things at the wrong time. In this entry, we’ll explore how the aspects you might love about streaming down the road can cause your channel to sputter in the beginning.   


When I was in school, I hated reading. On paper, I was an excellent English student- I was placed in advanced classes for reading and writing throughout my educational career. And while the ability to break down stories and answer questions about them came effortlessly to me in school, I never read books for my own enjoyment. I’d be forced to pick up The Great Gatsby or Homer’s Odyssey and I would skim the text, knowing what kind of questions the teacher might ask, and then I’d ace the test and never think about the book again. I wouldn’t even read the whole thing- only what I needed for the assignment. I resented books in general, because I associated them with work. I’d see other kids reading novels just because they liked them, and I’d be baffled. Why would anyone ever choose to read books voluntarily? 

But then when I got out of school, I picked up a book on a whim. I can’t even remember which book it was anymore- something for teens, below what was technically my reading level- but I remember really enjoying the story either way. I thought to myself, “Why didn’t they assign this book in class rather than the boring stuff we were forced to read?” And after reading that one, I picked up another. And after that, another. My speed eventually increased, and I would start going through books much more quickly. I grew curious, and got into the classics. And when I did that, I was shocked to find that The Great Gatsby, Homer’s Odyssey, and all these other dusty old stories I was forced to read in school were actually incredible. Now, reading has become one of my favorite pastimes. I finish a book every few days, and I ravenously explore every genre and author I can. The same act which felt like pulling teeth while I was in school is now something I excitedly pursue every day. 

Playing The Witcher games got me into the
novels and short stories.

When trying to build a Twitch streaming habit, this same principle applies. There are all sorts of things you can try to do on your channel in the beginning, and all of them
can be great ideas. But some of them won’t be the best choice for you right now. I formed a reading habit by finding things I enjoyed, whether or not anyone else thought they were the right choice for me, and I focused on reading only what I liked. This created a positive feedback loop. I liked the first book, so I moved onto reading another book. In streaming, you want to create that same positive loop. But because of how nervous many prospective streamers are, it’s easy to over-prepare instead. You may have researched all sorts of ‘best practices’ about growing quickly, how to engage your chat, or making your shows look as good as they can be. You may have even learned those things from this podcast. But if you take too many lessons to heart before actually trying to stream for yourself, you’re only letting a bunch of other people’s recommendations form a cage around your channel. Where’s the room for expression? 


When I was in school, teachers assigned me books they genuinely thought were amazing- and those books were amazing- but they weren’t right for me at the time. I hadn’t formed a love for the act of reading itself, so I wasn’t interested in thinking critically about an author’s intentions or analyzing complex prose. Just because I was capable of doing those things didn’t mean I should have been doing them. You may be struggling to form a streaming habit for the same reason I couldn’t form a reading habit. Until I was free of the expectations and limits of my education, I associated reading with what all those other people told me to think. I had a very narrow view of what books could be, and that almost destroyed my chances of ever getting into reading. It was only when I was free to create my own enjoyment that I actually stuck with it. 

When you try to implement too many things on your channel from the outset, whether they’re technical enhancements, different scenes you’re switching between, or even general do’s and don’ts that you learned from some instructional resource, the stream isn’t really your own. Your habit can’t form easily because you’re only doing a bunch of things other people told you to do. Try setting aside all the baggage you’ve picked up while educating yourself about Twitch, and just stream. Do whatever comes naturally to you, without thinking about anything you’ve learned. Find your own enjoyment in the craft. You’ll keep coming back because you’re discovering things for yourself, and at your own pace. It’s your journey. Don’t let it be taken over by someone else’s past experiences. And like me coming back and reading The Great Gatsby later in life, you can try the more complicated stuff after you’ve formed a genuine love for the act of streaming. But that love should always come first. That’s how you build a better streaming habit. 

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