Something occurred to me today. When it comes to working on projects, I've often picked the first thing that came to my mind. This is particularly easy to do when you are building a clone of something. I have not, in a long time, brainstormed a batch of ideas to see if I could come up with something over the span of a few days.
Recently, I asked my partner if they would be willing to sit down with me and spend 5 minutes brainstorming as many ideas as we could (individually) for a game I could build. The ideas could be anything. Then we exchanged the ideas and explained them more thoroughly.
It was great.
But before I get to that — I made it clear at the outset, that I did not intend to use any of these ideas. In fact, it would be best to walk into the exercise with the assumption that everything will get thrown away (actually, I tucked it into the back pocket of my sketchbook because I think it'll be a nice memory to find someday).
In the end, we laughed at lots of ideas and it was fun. Honestly, I think I should keep doing this (independently or together, it doesn't matter), again and again and again. It should get boring. It should become tedious (although hopefully still have some laughs, depending on the subject matter).
In retrospect, it's kind of sad. I feel like I've been operating on autopilot with some kind of mo/mantra of have to build something; have to have a portfolio; have to keep learning. Of course, I absolutely enjoyed the process — the learning, the puzzling, the tinkering — but I also built some things that are just bitrotting and have no real meaning to me; they were just an excuse to learn a programming language or whatever 1
I think in the future, when an idea comes to me (or, I get possessed by it?) I would like to sit and brainstorm alternatives, or related ideas for a few days before I dive in.
There's absolutely nothing wrong with making up a project to learn a programming language. I just happen to have different goals at this point.