At bedtime, my wife puts on various podcasts. Most of the time, I am the only one listening to them since she falls asleep 5 minutes into them. Two of my favorites are Kick in the Creatives and Sketchbook Skool.
I don’t particularly draw, paint or do anything with a sketchbook but I have found that a lot of what they talk about relates to me and coding. The other day in Kick in the Creatives they were interviewing Koosje Koene (she is one of the founders of Sketchbook Skool) and they were talking about what to do when you just don’t feel like doing your art.
I do two types of coding. One is day-job coding. I still enjoy it but even when I don’t feel like coding I have found that just starting gets me going. I open one of the IDEs that I work in and I just start typing.
The other type of coding that I do is for my mobile apps. And if I don’t feel like coding those, I don’t really have to. I don’t really get paid. The money I make on these apps is of very little consequence to my life. If I calculate money made divided by hours spent it would be under $2.00/hour. I really enjoy coding these mobile apps, but there are days where I don’t feel like coding. Paraphrasing Koosje Koene, I feel like I have broken something that I use to enjoy.
Interesting enough the same technique that she uses to get back into her art, I also implement to get back to coding. I give it a break. I go for a walk. And in due time, I get a new idea or a new twist on an old idea and I am off to the races. I have been coding for a couple of decades now and luckily I have not broken it yet.
Another Kick in the Creatives that I heard recently was about your own personal artistic style. Sandra Busby adamantly stated that a style should not be something you look for, but it is something that develops from continuously working on your art.
I have a lot more restrictions when coding than most artist have when doing their art. Although I code for fun, what I create I want it to be enjoyed by other people. I code casual games. I like playing them and I like making them. Most casual games are vertical and important button locations are at thumbs reach. Most people play these games with one hand while doing something else. There are many other restrictions that I impose on my games based on known ways people play these games.
I also try to re-use code as often as possible: it is part of the game I play and part of the fun. Everything I create for game 1, I try to create it so I can easily use it in-game 2.
I mention the restrictions and the re-use of code because I believe they limit the range of possible styles. That being said if you look at my games and if you could look at my code for these games you will see a pattern. A style. As Sandra Busby stated in that podcast if somebody saw one of my art pieces and they knew me, they would probably know that I created it. I feel the same way about my apps and my code. And if you look at apps I have not upgraded in a while and those that I have you will see an evolution of that style. Not a style that I decided ahead of time and forced upon myself, but a style that evolved from continuous practicing of my craft.