The Secret to Success in Game Audio: It's Not Motivation
Attention all game audio professionals! Are you ready to have your motivational bubble burst?
Many video game sound designers and composers seem to be under the impression that their creative muses decide whether they can produce good work or not. Without "feeling it", "being in the moment", or "being motivated" they really can't be expected to produce the kind of world-changing audio experiences they feel they should.
Well, hold on to your headphones, folks, because we're about to challenge that assumption and prove that motivation is completely overrated.
Mmm yes, feel the motivation flowing through you... NOT
Motivation - Holy Grail or Load of Crap?
Picture this: You wake up tomorrow morning feeling inspired and motivated to tackle the day, but by lunchtime, your motivation has flown the coop faster than Link after attacking a chicken in Ocarina of Time.
The ultimate boss fight
Sound familiar? Consistently relying on motivation can lead to a vicious cycle of ups and downs and it puts the long-term trajectory of your career at risk of being derailed by your day-to-day emotions. I'm going to tell you something you probably already know: The world doesn't stop spinning just because you "aren't feeling it" today. Most people don't get to choose whether they feel motivated to wake up and work as a banker, cashier, hair stylist, or whatever...
If they call their boss and say they're not showing up because they aren't motivated, they get fired.
And frankly, that's how it should be. Imagine if your house was on fire and the fire department didn't come because they weren't feeling motivated! Imagine if your toilet was backed up spilling sewage all over your floor and the plumber quit halfway through the job because he just wasn't feeling creative. Freelancers fly solo and are often missing the direct feedback of a boss or colleague who would see and correct their attitude towards only working when they feel like it, which is why the consequences don't seem as serious when you're out on your own. The sad thing is that this is the type of issue that can only be recognized years later when you're sitting there wondering why you still haven't made any progress. So what can we do about it?
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Discipline - The Ultimate Source of Power
What is the antidote to those times when motivation is lacking? Discipline.
You tell 'em, Tom Hanks
Discipline and work ethic are the glue that holds a successful career together. When motivation wanes, these qualities keep you pushing forward and producing high-quality work. Professionals understand that success in the game audio industry (or any industry, really) is not predicated on being motivated every moment. It's about consistently putting in the work day after day, month after month, year after year. The reality is that there is no fountain of unending joy you one day find that makes this job different from any other. It is still a job. It still needs doing on days you don't feel like it. Your clients and their deadlines don't care about your motivation. They need to see results. If you aren't a person who delivers quality work consistently, you will never establish yourself in this industry.
Maybe that sounds harsh but that is the reality of the world we live in.
Projects don't come to a screeching halt because the creative juices aren't flowing today, especially the awesome, big-budget projects that you'd probably most like to work on. To achieve your game audio goals, you must become the type of person who shows up time and time again, regardless of how they feel, and does the work that needs to be done. These are the people who make things happen. These are the people whose dreams come true.
So there you have it, folks.
Motivation may give you a quick burst of energy, but it's discipline and work ethic that will keep you pushing forward and producing top-notch work.
Don't get me wrong, it's great when you have a surge of creativity or motivational boost every now and then, but relying on that feeling to do any work at all can only hurt your chances for success in the game audio industry.
"You will never always be motivated. You have to learn to be disciplined."
So put down the motivational quotes, pick up your headphones, and get to work! Your game audio dream career awaits!
I created The Game Audio Pro with the goal of helping others understand the fundamental business skills that are often the difference between success and failure for freelancers.
If you're ready to take your game audio career to the next level, download my guide to The Most Important Mindset for Game Audio Success.