Creating your own game from scratch isn't an easy task. Even when people use tool-kits that do a lot of the background work for them, like RPGMaker and Gamemaker, there's still a mammoth amount of work involved if they ever hope to finish. Development times that stretch over several years are not uncommon and neither are unfinished projects, so anyone who wants to get into amateur development really needs to understand before they start that it isn't going to be an easy task to complete a project...
... but, having said that, are the long development times we encounter in the amateur community really because it's so hard to finish or is it because we aren't organising our time properly? And is it even a bad thing that we take so long to finish?
It isn't unheard of for games to have much shorter development times, with games like Generica and Visions and Voices managing to be finished in a matter of weeks. These games were created with a particular time-frame in mind and the developers, Kentona and Crazuman (Craze x Karsuman) respectively, obviously planned their work around that time-frame. This certainly isn't a bad way of doing about things; setting yourself a limit and working to stay within that limit is the most efficient way of finishing a project and, if you stick to it, it's going to ensure you get your game finished as quickly as possible.
It's also a mindset that you have to respect because it takes a lot of will-power. Why? Because by setting yourself a certain time-frame and dedicating x amount of your time to your game per day, you are essentially making your amateur development into a second job. It becomes something you you have to do rather than something you want to do and, at the end of the day, this may not be ideal.
Imagine the situation: You come home from work (or school or college or whatever it is you fill your day with) and you're tired. All you want to do is have something to eat and lazily watch the television (or play on the computer or read a book or whatever it is you do when you want to be lazy). However, instead of getting to be lazy, you come home knowing that you should be working on your game. See how that could get frustrating? For a short-project it might not be so bad because you can always see the light at the end of the tunnel, but for longer projects like the 10 hour+ games a lot of people in the RPGMaker community are taking stabs at, it's likely to fail; the frustration would likely build up to the point where the game is cancelled.
What's the other option? The other option is to treat amateur game-development as what it is; a hobby. To treat it as something you only do in your "spare time". The advantages of doing this are obvious. First of all, there is less chance of you getting frustrated and so less chance of you rage-quitting halfway through development. You're also less likely to make mistakes by rushing through things if you're not constricting yourself to a certain time frame or to certain "working hours". Finally, if you're treating development more like a hobby, you're less likely to get bored of your game and quit making it (although this does assume you have fun developing games, but if you don't then you should probably get a new hobby anyway!)
There are, of course, downsides, with the obvious one being that you won't finish your game nearly as quickly as you would if you meticulously planned out your time. A slightly less obvious downside is the risk of falling prey to scope creep or getting stuck in the "improvement cycle", neither of which being something you want to do. A game will suddenly take ten times longer to finish if you do fall into one of these and this is likely to result in boredom and frustration.
So, both ways of working have their upsides and downsides. Which is better? Neither, really, because there can never be a strict answer to the question I posed at the start of this article. It's all down to the kind of person you are and the kind of game you're making. If you think you have the willpower, or if you're only working on a short game, then treating development like a second job might not be a bad idea. Conversely, if you're working on a long project or you don't think you have the willpower, then it's probably best to treat development a little more casually.
Personally, I fall into the latter camp; I would never finish a project if I treated it like work. As far as I'm concerned, you don't need to finish your game as quickly as possible and you certainly don't need to put any added pressure on yourself to finish. Developing the game is meant to be the fun part anyway, not finishing...