Welcome back everyone to my series exploring the life of a Double Developer in which I describe what it's like working full-time in the games industry while also working full time on my own indie game.
I hope you enjoy it!
Ok, on to the meat and potatoes of this post. I thought I'd lead with a story I heard only a couple days ago from a co-worker. At a previous company he worked at, he worked with a guy that was trying to do a similar Double Developer type thing. The only problem was, he was so focused on his indie project that his work at his day job suffered. It even got to the point where he was devoting a lot of hours at his day job doing his indie work, which made his work suffer even further.
So obviously this is not a great situation! Now it's only natural that aspects of your personal life will bleed into your work life, and aspects of your work life bleed into your personal life (crunch anyone?). At most companies there is usually some degree of understanding surrounding this; if you plan on leaving work at 5 on the dot to meet up with your real estate agent to sort out some details with a house you're buying, most people probably wouldn't bat an eye. But as I outlined in a previous post, getting permission to work on your own projects outside of work can be tricky. Wanting to leave on time from work to go home to do your own work raises a few more concerns; the employer might wonder whether you're really putting in your best effort at work or if you're just going through the motions until you go home. As a result, it's crucial to be able to prove that you are deserving the permission to work on your own projects and can still perform at your best while at your day job.
So the first point is to remember that everything you do has to be done with an extra degree of consideration. This relates more to the perception of passion rather than the actual passion, but it's no less crucial. It's important to be open and honest about your work so that no guessing needs to be done in the background. For example, it's good to get a clear understanding of when your work is expected to be done and/or communicate clearly when you expect to be able to finish. And then stick to that as best as possible. Without this explicit communication, innocent actions might be misconstrued. For example, if I feel like my work can be done by Wednesday but my employer expects it on Tuesday, leaving work at 5 o'clock on Tuesday to go home and work on my own project may be mis-interpreted by an employer as a lack of dedication on my part. So keep the lines of communication and honesty open!
Another point in keeping the passion alive is: make sure you're passionate about both projects to begin with! At NLG I get to work on some awesome games. If I wasn't working on my own projects, I'd still be having a blast working on those games. That's important, since if you don't really love both aspects of what you're doing, one of them is going be sacrificed for the other. And that's a recipe for problems.
But what to do if you're not really that excited about working at your day job, but you've made a commitment to it that you don't want to go back on? Well the key here, and the third point to keep in mind, is to realize that you have made a commitment and you're getting paid for it. If you resolve that in your mind, and take the first point to heart so your communication with your employer is solid, then your lack of passion won't be as big of a deal since by all appearances you're doing everything that could be asked of you. Then your employer is happy with your work, and you're free to love working on your own project on your own time. Plus, the old saying, "fake it 'till you make it" applies here. If you're earnestly trying your darndest at work, chances are the passion will grow as you really dive in to your work. And then your employer is happy with your passion, and you get to enjoy your work more! A win/win!
And here's a bit of a tip that I personally use to help boost my passion at work: as often as I can, I use my lunch-time to play a game. That way I'm injecting some enjoyment into my work day that I don't really have time for at home. So I'm happier at work, and I look forward to my day since it means I'll probably be able to play a game too :)
Well hopefully this post answered a few questions about how to keep the passion alive at work and at home, but let me know in the comments section if you have any other questions about it!