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Do The Thing To Be The Thing
I’ve suddenly smashed my best ever figures on Twitter. Utterly destroyed them. Left them in a pile of pitiful, smoking ruins. I did it by stripping myself bare and walking out into the middle of the marketplace of ideas.
As some of you are aware, last Saturday, I started tweeting about my career. I didn’t just tweet a few things randomly, I wrote a full draft, then edited that draft into tweets. Then I posted it. Then things started getting a little crazy. The tweets went down extraordinarily well, so the next day I continued the story of my career, this time expanding the scope considerably and putting considerable thought into the progression and development of my path through video games from the early 1980s
I’d been following the advice of Nicolas Cole and Dickie Bush, whose writing course I’m about to go on. They suggest writing daily and publicly, creating value, and putting your best work into a shared space where people already are, and Twitter is their preference. I think I might have taken it a little far. As of this writing, the latest figures are at the head of this page, and that’s nothing compared to the total through the thread.
I’ve gained more than 1,500 followers (thank you, I’ll try to keep you entertained) and generated an incredible amount of good will. I’m staggered. People I’ve respected for years have called me names. Good names. The one that really choked me was this one.:
I’ve had to scroll through hundreds upon hundreds of replies and shares to find it.
So why has this resonated? Well, I’m doing the “bleeding onto the page” thing, sure, but I’m also trying to structure it into something that people actually want to read.
Remember recently I said that if you’re in the business of making games, you can do them for the love of it, and expect little engagement (though you might incidentally get it, more likely if you’ve an established reputation) or you can make games for an audience. As my dear friend Matt Hall puts it, you should make your game for one person. Doesn’t have to be a real person, it can be an idealised person.
I realise that attention is a scarce resource, and that I have to earn it. The way to earn it is to take it seriously, like a craft, and do the very best execution within the structures of that craft. That’s what I’ve been trying to do here. Despite the sometimes casual style, every single tweet was edited carefully after having been written in long form, and you can imagine how tough a challenge that is structurally.
I also asked of every tweet if it would move the story along. Would a reader still be interested? How much momentum had I built up? Should I now pick up the pace as the story builds towards the cliff hanger? Yes, I try to end on cliff-hangers most of the time.
The main thing is to show up. To turn up. To do it every day, and to give your best every day. It’s a long time since I’d done that with anything, and writing is my first love, so writing it is.
Losing Mikey was a bitter blow. I wondered how my family and friends would feel if I died with all this history unshared. I know I have an amazing story. I mean, you think you’ve seen something in what I’ve released so far, but you’ve seen nothing yet, truly. And I thought…
“What’s the fastest way to get my story out?”
I didn’t think about making money, even though I’m in a far from ideal financial position. I just thought about delivering the best story I could, as quickly as I could, and it soon became clear that just tweeting it might work.
Then on Monday I tried an experiment. Instead of dumping an entire tweet storm or “episode” as I call it, I did a tweet every couple of minutes, or more if the action was moving fast. That worked well.
And today, during the one hour time slot I’d set aside for this, at a critical point, I had a wicked idea. I posted this.
And then stopped the readers in their tracks with a Twitter poll…
I know, evil, right? But 99% of over 100 votes responded with “Y”
This is only possible on Twitter.
The story continues tomorrow.
Let me leave you with these final thoughts…
Work on your craft, every day, look at what you can practice.
Life is short. Share who you are, where you’ve come from, what made you.
Being naked and vulnerable is scary, but only by opening ourselves up to ridicule can we grow. And all life is growth, is it not?