Thursday, November 10, 2022

Streaming with Heart

When you’re streaming, are you using all the parts of your brain? As streamers, we can sometimes get set into an overly limited mindset, where we focus too much on certain problem solving methods, and ignore all the great solutions and ideas that are floating just outside the borders of the ordinary. If we want to be really effective in our pursuits, we should try to get to the core of whatever we’re facing- whether that’s a tech issue or an overall gameplan for our channels- and approach the issue with new inspiration. I call this ‘streaming with heart.’ 


Streaming with heart can help you with any kind of problem, but creativity is where it’s going to shine most. If you need to come up with an identity for your channel, or you want to decide how to best conduct yourself on stream, it always helps to look inwards. In beginner-focused entries like Three Steps to Start Streaming, as well as more intermediate or advanced-focused entries like How to Use Your Influences for Streaming, I’ve spoken on the importance of utilizing the things that are important to you when building your brand. Whether you’re passionate about cars, dancing, or solving Rubik’s Cubes, incorporating those things into your broadcasts will not only make your channel stand out more to viewers, but it will make you more excited to produce the shows.  

Tolkien made sure his languages were 
supported by a world, not the 
other way around.

It may not come as a surprise to many who have read his works, but J.R.R. Tolkien was a very
accomplished linguist. In addition to speaking dozens of languages himself, he also loved to invent languages from scratch. His world of Middle-earth is full of them- elves, dwarves, orcs, even different factions of men like the Rohirrim have their own fully fleshed-out tongues. And though many readers may assume that these languages were created in order to better serve the stories in which they appeared, in fact the opposite is true. Tolkien was quoted as having this to say about his passion for words: “what I think is a primary 'fact' about my work, that it is all of a piece, and fundamentally linguistic in inspiration. ... It is not a 'hobby', in the sense of something quite different from one's work, taken up as a relief-outlet. The invention of languages is the foundation. The 'stories' were made rather to provide a world for the languages than the reverse. To me a name comes first and the story follows.” 

To give you a reference point, Tolkien first started constructing one of his Elvish languages around 1911. He didn’t even start writing The Hobbit until the 1930’s, and of course The Lord of the Rings was even later than that. For J.R.R. Tolkien, one of the most famous writers of all time, his books were almost a sideshow, something to show off his real passion for invented language. Would The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit still be great stories without all the languages? Arguably they would. But would the writer have been as inspired to bring those stories to life in the first place, without his passion for language driving him to do so? Almost certainly not. By utilizing his ultimate passion in his writing, Tolkien was able to give his works a place among the all-time greats. 


Historically, the Greeks were responsible 
for solving many of the world's
toughest brain-teasers.

You can solve more mundane problems with a similar mindset. But instead of looking deep down to bring your passions into your streams, you’d be looking deep down at the root of an issue and coming up with an inspired solution. If 99 other people saw the same problem, they may not have come up with the same fix that you did, but as long as it works for you, that’s all that matters. In the entry Keep Your Twitch Goals in Sight, I told the story of Alexander the Great and the Gordian Knot. An oracle had foretold that anyone who could untie this incredibly complex knot would become the ruler of all Asia. Many men tried and failed over the years, and it was deemed impossible. Until Alexander came, cut straight through the knot with his sword, and fulfilled the prophecy. 

In the world of music, drummers will sometimes wear headphones in order to hear a recorded track while playing, so they can keep time for the rest of the band. Keith Moon, drummer of the rock band The Who, used to take this concept even further. His animated performing style would mean he was essentially putting his whole body into playing the drums, and in order to keep the headphones from falling off, he would duct-tape them to his head! Not the most elegant solution, but it worked for what he needed. 


In countless entries across The Twitch Playbook, I’ve outlined the various small and large solutions I’ve reached for problems across my streams. Whether I was recording my screen with a camera before being able to capture directly from an iPad, or lighting my streams with ordinary house lamps clothespinned with diffusion paper, I try to keep my solutions as simple to use as possible. Is it ugly? Maybe. But it works. When looking to solve your own stream problems or come up with creative overhauls, don’t look for ultra-specificity in your inspiration for fixes. For example, most of the things I did on my streams aren't going to apply directly to yours. But if you look deeper than that, into the core of the issue, you'll always find something. I often use examples from fields other than streaming in this podcast, to remind us that problem solving is universal. It’s not about the solution, but rather the mindset that led to the solution. If you can cultivate a problem-solving mind, the problem doesn’t matter. Creative or technical, big or small, you’ll be able to solve it. That’s what it means to steam with heart. 

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