Devlogging Tutorial, or How to Feel Qualified to Express Your Opinions


This is a devlog about devlogging. It might get a bit philosophical and waxy. Consider yourself warned.

If you’re an indie dev, it may be helpful, or perhaps even entertaining to you.

If you’re not an indie dev, well, I don’t see how it could hurt. Read on! 


Oh, yes, before I get too far ahead, here’s a joke:

How would you describe a Scottish fish wearing a top hat?

Sofishticated!


I got the idea to make this post after hearing many game devs say that they don’t make devlog posts because they don’t know what to say, or feel weird about publicly saying anything. 

You might’ve felt this at some point while considering doing something for marketing, or publicity, or simply to share your experience in the hopes of informing, entertaining, or helping other people. Something stops you from expressing your opinions.  

I’ve heard many reasons people cite for this, and it seems to boil down to two things. I’d like to expose these two things and give you my take on how I deal with them.

They are: 

  1. “I don't have anything of value to say.”
  2. “Nobody will care, they’re busy.”

One of these things is really about perceived self-worth - am I good enough, smart enough, experienced enough, well-intentioned enough, or you know, whatever enough to say these things.

The other is about perception by others - what if they ignore, or dislike, or contradict, or ridicule my ideas? 

One thing is about doubt, and the other is fear, and they’re both about you, aren’t they? Doubt and fear stopping us from acting, huh, who’d thunk that?

If this applies to you, I’d like to assuage some of that.

Let’s take the first question - do you have something valuable to say? 

I would wager, yes, you do have something interesting and valuable to say!

Here’s why: 

There’s no one else on earth who has quite the same combination of genetics and life experience as you. You’re actually a unique snowflake. There are things you do and think so often that you take for granted but would probably blow someone else’s mind or tickle their juicy lobes. 

And this naturally leads to the second question, will anyone care?

I don’t know, and neither do you. In fact, it’s nearly impossible for you to know unless you try it. 

I said many things without knowing how people would react, and many times I was surprised and delighted to hear that it helped solve someone’s dilemma or made someone happy. 

You might be a unique snowflake but you have much more in common with everyone else than you have differences because we’re all still human beings with basically the same desires and fears - we seek pleasure and avoid pain. So, mathematically, probabilistically, there is a good chance your insights and solutions will be helpful to someone else who’s struggling through the same problems as you.

And to me, if I get one person to smile with a post here and there, it would be worth the thousands of words I typed.

A smile is worth a thousand words. 

Now that should be enough, go and write that devlog or that tumblr post, go and share your experience and your solutions. You don’t need to read anymore.

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What ‘ave we here, a stubborn one, eh? Well, alright then, you still have some lingering doubts? No problem, I have time. 

“But what qualifies me? I’m no expert, I’m no veteran, why should people listen?”

To answer that, we can look at some common assumptions that are floating around about what sort of qualifications one needs before they can legitimately express their opinions.

  1. Money - Some people feel that if a person has made a lot of money, their opinions must be worthy. 

Wealthy people can and do say questionable things. There is no guarantee here.

2. Influence - Some people feel if a person has great influence, then their opinions must be valuable. 

Influential people can and do say questionable things. There is no guarantee here.

3. Fame. Some people feel famous individuals must know what they’re talking about. 

Famous people can and do say questionable things. There is no guarantee here.

4. Education - Some people feel that having certificates and degrees from institutions gives someone’s opinion value. 

Educated people can and do say questionable things. There is no guarantee here.

5. Experience - Some feel only those with a great deal of experience have worthwhile opinions.

Experienced people can and do say questionable things. There is no guarantee here.

To me, all of the above are no guarantee that someone’s opinion is good or correct. And more importantly, you can’t really rely on any of them to make you feel qualified to express your opinions. Because even if you have all those going for you, it’s still possible to be arrested by doubt or fear, it’s called the imposter syndrome, a condition where a person feels like whatever success or qualifications they have, they don’t actually deserve them and are therefore a fraud and should scurry away into the underbrushes before they’re caught and exposed.

It might be a reason many people who might have something constructive to say don't say anything. 

When you seek some kind of qualification and say “if I have this, then I’ll be ready to express myself”, you’re setting up a moving, illusory goal post that cannot be reached.  

You’re actually trying to use some external objects to pacify doubt and fear so that you can go ahead and do what you’d like to do. But doubt and fear are emotions, and you can’t pacify emotions with things. They’re not even in the same category. If you don’t deal with the underlying emotions themselves, then when you reach one goal, you’ll simply set up another one further down the road and say “once I get THERE, then I’ll be really truly good enough.”, ad infinitum.

It’s the emotions that stop you, and it’s the pacifying of emotions that stops the stopping.

I spend a lot of my effort and attention on understanding how emotions like doubt and fear arise, what conditions cause them, and what conditions alleviate them, and what I can do to produce more favorable conditions.

These are things that either happen in my mind, or things that have a direct impact on the state of my mind. They’re addressing the cause of the emotions themselves, and they’re not a one-time, magic cure. They’re practices to be done repeatedly to hone a skill, to achieve a result.

  1. Practice having wholesome intentions. 

When I write something, I relax, smile, and put my attention on how to share something that’s brought me joy, inspiration or relief from my problems. I write it with the wish that it helps someone, somewhere. I don’t think much about whether it will help me sell games or get likes. If it happens, I’ll be glad, sure, but if it doesn’t, then it doesn’t matter much. 

The point is to take away the focus on “me”, on am I good enough, or how will people react to me. “I” am not that important here, it’s not about “me.”

When my attention is not on “me”, then doubt and fear are lessened because doubt and fear are fundamentally self-centered emotions, they’re always about “me” and “mine”. There’s only so much mental energy available, when I invest it into wholesome thoughts and intentions, there’s naturally not enough left to feed the unwholesome. That’s how I use wholesome intentions to reduce negative emotions.

2. Practice not criticizing people. 

This is actually an extension of #1. When you say something with the intention of hurting someone else, you’re investing mental energy into a negative emotion, of being critical and judgemental.  This makes the mind become more and more critical and judgemental as a habit. But who lives with that mind 24/7? When there’s nothing outside to criticize, what does the mind do? It will do what it’s been habitualized to do, criticizing and judging the closest thing there is, yourself. The more you make a habit of criticizing or judging people, the more anxious and afraid of being wrong you become. If you don’t want to be anxious and afraid, then stop criticizing people and start practicing “Nevermind”. If someone says something you don’t like or agree with, relax, smile, say “nevermind” and walk away. Do something more worthwhile with your time. You have all these qualities and experiences that are unique and can be helpful or entertaining to other people. Why would you waste your mental energy on arguing?  

“But they’re wrong!” 

Ok, let them be wrong over there. Use your energy on something more interesting. 

You have a limited amount of cognitive energy, you can do something fun with it or you can get into fights, you pick.

3. Practice not reacting to criticism. 

Ok, so you say, I can have good intentions but that’s no guarantee that I’ll be magically right about everything. Well, of course not. But the point of this is not to be right all the time. No one can be right all the time. The point is not to cultivate habits that create fear and doubt in you so that you can express, share, have fun, and help other people. 

I try to be prepared to be wrong all the time, and because of that, I’m not that worried about being wrong. And it’s not a philosophical, mental, “preparedness. It’s a concrete practice that trains the ability to let myself be wrong and not be upset about it. 

A reaction is unconscious, it’s automatic, it’s what animals do. Someone criticizes you, you feel a heat in your chest and a buzz in your head, and your mouth starts to move to defend or counter-attack. Sometimes you feel like you’re on auto-pilot and don’t have any control until you cool down afterward. That’s a reaction. A re-action.

If someone criticizes, questions, or insults me, I make a point not to react right away. I take deep breaths, relax, and smile as I let the words bounce around in my head by themselves without actively engaging them with my attention. Emotional reactions can be very strong and irresistible for a few seconds after hearing or seeing something, but if I keep relaxing and smiling, it calms down by itself after a few seconds, or minutes, and then something magical happens, my brain starts to work again and I can actually think about what that person said and consider how I can use it to improve myself. 

And you know what, a lot of the time, they would be right about something, and by listening and rationally thinking about it, it ends up helping me improve.

That’s a response. 

Anyone can react and defend themselves and criticize others, every animal is capable of that.

But a response is something else. Humans are capable of it, but it takes a lot of practice, and it’s worth it. It lets you turn arguments into discussions and insults into suggestions and anger into understanding. 

That’s my three-fold practice for being active with sharing and expressing my views. 

Practice having good intentions. Practice not reacting. Practice not criticizing. 

Relax, smile, and “never mind”.

I’m far from perfect at it, but every day I do it, I get a little better. 

That’s why it’s a practice, and the improvements are not really measured as external statistics like posts published, games sold, or "likes" gained, those things are nice, but they’re always fluctuating, subject to the whims and trends of public opinion.

The bigger benefit is felt internally as being calm, relaxed, and joyful with the things I write and share. 


I hope this has helped you in one way or another!

I abbreviated the practices I do in order to have a more calm and happy mind, so if you’re interested in that part, feel free to contact me for more details.

Take care of yourself and see you next time! 

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Comments

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(2 edits) (+2)

I love this post in so many ways ❤! But the main one has to be the amount of emphasis you put into practice!

It really is the key. Countless times I've witnessed people failing at being understanding, open-minded, or genuine, and then automatically proceeding to assume they are a fraud. They aren't, we aren't. 

Even if you think a moral trait is truly important and admirable, you won't develop it overnight.

It is not hypocrisy if you fail on the way to become a better person. As a matter of fact, all of us will fail multiple times along the way. It is part of the process and, as you said, we get better at it every time we try, even (and I dare say especially) when we fail here and there. 

Thank you for sharing your experience and tips with us! 

(+1)

Yes, well said. :) And thank you for the kind words.

As a famous taoist once said, and I paraphrase, "One who strives for virtue is closer to virtue."

(+2)

This was really helpful to read. Thank you.

Glad to hear that!