How to start projects and never finish them

My vicious cycle and how I can break from it

Hakan Kimeiga Alpay

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I have problems with commitment.

I’ll have an idea for a game, or video, or song, etc. And it’s the best idea. Aw yeah! The very best idea ever. Indubitably.

Then I get super excited to work on it. I’ll think about how fun, engaging or compelling it will be. How it’s going to take the world by storm with its lustre. How I’m going to be interviewed on TV for being the creator of it. I usually imagine myself coolly brushing off the accomplishment during the interview (“Oh, it’s just a little thing I worked on in my free time”).

Then comes development.

I sit down at my laptop at my desk, put on some music, and get to work. Maybe I’ll brainstorm some ideas on paper or in OneNote first. Maybe I’ll mock up the app or artwork in Figma. Maybe I’ll start working on the game mechanics in Unity. Maybe I’ll play around with some drums in Ableton. Whatever the project in question is, I just dip my toes into making it at first.

Photo by Tirza van Dijk on Unsplash

After about one to three days, I’ll have a prototype of what I want to make, unfinished or finished. If it’s unfinished, it usually means I hit a difficult obstacle and couldn’t figure out how to surmount it. If it’s finished, it means I managed to pull all the pieces together smoothly.

But it’s at this moment in time that something happens.

I feel the satisfaction of getting pretty far in the project. I think proudly of myself and remind myself of how few other people would have made it this far. But when I remember that I need to extend this prototype for it to be a finished product, I get lethargic. Suddenly I think about how tedious it will be to create a large amount of content, to polish everything, to improve user experience, etc. If the prototype is unfinished, I get extremely bored while trying to push through the final obstacle, whether it’s Facebook Oauth for an app, or creating the right horn sound for an instrument in Ableton.

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Hakan Kimeiga Alpay

Part-time game developer, full-time daydreamer. Loves Counter-Strike, Swiss Style, and architecture.