Duty Calls, Should Have Gone To Voicemail

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

Note, I will return to my writing lessons from video games soon.  I’ve just had a lot of other inspirations lately.

At the start of the Christmas holiday, I had games to play, writing to do, a chance to pre-read Serdar’s next novel (spoiler, excellent), and much more.  I also had no desire to do any of these awesome things.

So I waited a week, then pushed myself.  I pushed myself through returning to work.  I pushed myself on my time off.  I even pushed myself to game, figuring something would be enjoyable.

Instead, everything I did felt like work most of the time, even things I enjoyed.  I didn’t seem to be depressed or down, just put upon.  No one was ordering me to do all this except me.

There’s a point where we turn wanting to do something into having to do something.  We truly care about something, but we build so much schedule and ritual around it that our core urge is lost.  Must replaces want.

For me, it was a feeling I had to do everything.  I had to stay on my schedule.  I had to get things done for friends and writing groups, etc.  No one told me I had to but me.  So it was time to change that.

I gave myself permission to drop anything or everything over the MLK weekend, and thought over what I wanted during a long walk.  In a day, my desires to read and create came back, I’d found the reasons I was doing these things by not doing them.  Now I find myself happier and more productive, and I’m even altering my plans for 2022.

(Interesting note, my urge to play video games came back last.  I suspect it’s changed and may write more on that).

You’ve probably had moments like this yourself.  Please, take a break and take time to reconnect with why you do things.  There’s no reason to loose yourself trying to do things, and you won’t get them done anyway.

Steven Savage

It’s Great. So What?

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

Lately, I’ve been prereading/editing many works.  I’ve also finished several books and have more things being juggled for publishing.  I’m finding one of the worst forms of feedback is “it’s great!”

You’ve had that experience.  You tell some writer, “it’s great” and then the questions come – why, how come, are you sure?  Didn’t you give enough feedback?  You just said it’s fine!

Then it strikes you since you’re also a writer – “it’s great” means nothing.  It provides no details on what to do right, what to improve, etc.  “It’s great” is useless to writers because there’s no way to improve.  You may have written a novel that will stay in the public mind for centuries, and you don’t know why.

Even if you should change nothing, you want to know why you shouldn’t change.  If you don’t get feedback on what you did right, you might stop doing it by accident!

It’s almost easier to give negative feedback because we can probably go on in detail if we dislike something.  We forget the easy and pleasurable read, but the flaws prick our minds and the pain stands out.  Negative feedback comes easier.

I take this as a reminder that giving feedback on what’s right is a skillset all its own.  It takes work to notice why things are good, what impressed us, what even taught us.  A smooth ride of a read can become so smooth we don’t realize why it was smooth.

The best answer I have is to be self-aware.  When a story flows through your mind, what is it that worked for you?  What did you feel in your gut as your eyes took in the words?  Your reactions are the key to tell you what makes a thing great.

If we listen to ourselves, we help others do better – or keep doing the good things.

Steven Savage

Steve’s Upate 1/16/2022

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

For anyone curious why this update is “no books yet” it’s because I’m focusing on my websites, the Sanctum, and general cleanup. Really needed a month or so to just catch up.

The Way With Worlds series: No new news – next book end of March or so, three books this year, want to do the new covers but no plan for another few weeks.

“The Agile Writer’s Mindset”: Still plan to start in Q2, and as noted it’s more about how to change your mindset with certain exercises.

Other Books: I hope to hear back from the “pre-editor” on the book on creativity and freedom soon (they’ve had a bad few weeks). Based on that I’ll make the call when to or what to do with it. The compendium book will be “whenever.”

The Seventh Sanctum rewrite: I’m on a roll now and have troubleshot multiple problems. It’s been very insightful as well – I’ve even flushed out some old errors that weren’t apparent. I hope to have a better timeline in a few more weeks.


Steven Savage