The Obligation of Writing

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Lately, I’ve come to realize just how much of writing involves social obligations:

  • We join writer’s groups for support and are obligated to participate and help.
  • We pre-read for others, and in turn, they are obligated to pre-read for us.
  • We have to juggle obligations with our editors, artists, and so on.
  • We obligate ourselves to speak at conventions – then wonder how we signed up to do three panels (says the author who’s done that).

I’m sure you’ve had your own experiences of “writer’s obligations.” I’m also sure, like me, you may ask “why didn’t anyone tell us how much of writing is social obligations?” For too many writers, no one prepares us for the sheer social weight writing can carry.

For myself, I’m slowly learning to give myself space when it comes to the social demands of writing. I cannot participate in every writing group activity – or I won’t have time to write. I make time for when my fellow writers need help – while appreciating my own limits. It’s a work in progress.

I hope you can show yourself some compassion too.

But we also must remind our fellow writers that the social obligations of writing can overburden them. We can listen to them and gently remind them of their limits. We can carefully warn them when they are in danger of being overloaded. We can accept them as people who can’t do everything.

Maybe they’ll show themselves some compassion.

I’m still figuring where to go with this realization. I’d like to make it more than just a blog post. Perhaps there are discussions to be had in writer’s groups or a panel to do at a convention.

As long as I don’t get over-obligated . . .

Steven Savage

Steve’s Update 6/13/2021!

(This column is posted at and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

So where are my projects?

The Way With Worlds series next book – on Natural Disasters – is ready to launch this week!  Then a break as I finish up my novel.  New covers are coming as well and I need to figure how to transition to them.

A School of Many Futures is in final edit! I’ve gotten feedback from one of three prereaders, have my new outline set up, and am editing away.  Expect the eBook in August, print in September, but as time is tight and the world still a little messy, I’ll let you know of any changes.

The Seventh Sanctum rewrite moves ever forward! The core framework and all the non-generator pages are done.  It wasn’t as easy as I thought – because Flask/Jinja2 has lots of helpful functions that threw me off! 

Steven Savage

When Your Thing Becomes Your Thing

(This column is posted at and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Serdar and I often talk about why we create what we do. These conversations veer into things like the “punk” mindset, artistic visions, and the like. Why do people make what they do, and how can they be true to their vision?

Well, the truth is, it’s not always a straight line or magical revelation. Finding that “you” thing in writing is a journey, one my Way With Worlds books illustrates.

Most of my readers know how they started. I had two books on worldbuilding – the Way With Worlds Books – but wanted to sell more. I got the idea to do six small, cheap books on specific subjects to tie into them and raise interest. After being told I should raise the price to show value, they started selling well.

Previously I thought like a marketer, but now I saw what people wanted. People wanted specialized guides, and my unique “coaching buddy approach” seemed to resonate with people. This realization fired up my writing side.

So I wrote a few more books.

The act of writing the books inspired more books. Reader feedback guided me to pick the best titles. I set the lofty goal of writing thirty of these books, figuring that would ensure sales and be a worthy challenge.

I wrote a few more books, and my motivations evolved.

My drive to help writers and creatives changed. I realized how much good I could do and how much help I could provide. I also realized that worldbuilding helped people think about our world. What I did mattered to people.

I also began to savor the challenge in creating these books. I had to find what subjects people needed to learn. I created a system to help me write them effectively.

I kept writing.

I came to realize how outlandish my goals were – and how much I enjoyed them. Thirty books for a specific audience with specific interests on specific subjects? I was doing something only I could do.

I had started with a simple marketing idea based on a subject that interested me. It had evolved into a challenge, then something outrageously me. As you noticed, I’m still writing.

Our creative journeys aren’t linear, and our creative selves not always apparent. But if you keep creating and learning, you’ll find that work only you can make – and the you that can make that work.

Steven Savage