The actual experience
Although there are many jams that take place in a physical space, where you can get together with friends and like-minded people, most of them are done remotely. Find something that sounds fun, whether you like it for the thousands of participants or because it’s a niche jam that tickles your fancy.
For the shorter (48h) jams you will need to sacrifice some sleep, habits, hobbies and responsibilities to give you that little bit of extra time to crunch, troubleshoot or polish your project. It’s up to you, but many avid jam participants will tell you that when you hit that special state, time doesn’t matter and neither does sleep. Welcome to the beautiful state of flow where you can accomplish more in an hour than you would sometimes do in a full day.
It can be frustrating when you don’t seem to have the perfect idea, or you spend way too much time on trying to solve a problem, but this will help you grow. Compromise is a key ingredient in a successful jam and finding the perfect balance of quality and quantity, occasionally killing your darlings. But whilst hustling you will find new creative ways to get over the finish line.
Once you’ve submitted your entry with bloodshot eyes, it is time to review! After the jam participants are often given opportunity to dive into all submissions and provide ratings across several categories as well as give general feedback. An honest and incredibly helpful process that will help identify your strengths and most importantly, your weaknesses. How’s that for professional development?
So, is it worth it?
You’ve learnt that one or a couple of your skills need improvement and that others are amazing. You’ve created an experience that can be enjoyed by anyone and found skills and pathways that weren’t there before. You’ve managed to pull a decent project out of the blue that you can showcase on your portfolio, which thanks to all the feedback, has made it even better.
Not every jam can be a success and the reasons for that will be obvious. You took a risk and it didn’t work out, but you did it in a safe environment, and the only loss was a bit of sleep and a weekend. Reflect on your journey, even if you consider it a failure, the lessons from the experience will have taught you more than if it was a success.
Why do we fall? So that we can learn to pick ourselves up.
When you’ve completed the jam, it shouldn’t end there. You’ve got to ask yourself the question of what is next for you. Do you want to take your project further? Is it commercially viable or unique? Would it be worth sharing with the world? Perhaps thousands of people would enjoy it? Or maybe has it inspired other projects? It’s up to you, but don’t let it go to waste! There are some incredible (success) stories that each started with a single jam.