Writing With Friends, Friends With Writing

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com, Steve’s Tumblr, and Pillowfort.  Find out more at my newsletter, and all my social media at my linktr.ee)

Serdar’s latest article on feedback investigated why we need feedback to know we’re not going wrong. Positive feedback has its limits, after all.

That article got me thinking about feedback from my fellow writers and socializing with my fellow writers. These are things that I others value, but I’ve come to realize that you don’t always get them from the same people.

It’s essential to have feedback from fellow writers because they’re fellow writers. There are some things only a fellow writer can provide, such as the best tools or personal stories. Even your fans can’t give that kind of feedback.

But we also want to socialize with fellow writers. We want people to get us and share our triumphs and complaints. Writers want to connect with each other – just like anyone else. Forget feedback – can I just hang out with someone who sort of understands.

These things don’t always come from the same people, which is a difference I’ve struggled to deal with. COVID isolation has only made it worse, cramming all my writing relationships into a few social media apps.

Sure, I want feedback from my fellow writers, but the ability to learn from each other may not mean you’re friends. You may not have enough similarities, be too busy, etc..  You may find some writing relationships only work in the professional sense.

But as for being friends with fellow writers, that’s a whole different sphere. Your friendship may be built – or grow around – things unrelated to writing. You may find you enjoy hanging out and don’t want to drag writing into it. Friendship is different than professional relationships.

As I navigated COVID and our current “not quite a disaster but damn” phase of COVID, I and others are trying to build and rebuild relationships. I find myself craving feedback and friendship with fellow writers, something they often share. We’re constantly trying to sort out what we’re looking for or what function a writer’s group serves.

We writers might need to pause and what relationships we’re looking for – and how current relationships work. We might have more than we know, less than we wanted, or find we’re confused about relationships.

But at least we’ll know.

Steven Savage

The Desire For Exchange

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

I’d like to propose something to my fellow writers, creatives, and philosophical types. What if we were to exchange such things as written folios, guides, and musings of our various interests? Imagine exchanging a few thousand words specifically among your fellows for deep contemplation and writing.

This idea struck me for two reasons:

First, in my readings on religion, writing, and so on, I’d often read of people exchanging detailed outlines and folios. These were not things meant for initial public consumption but for private exchange, “beta” readings, and contemplation. They might become more later, but they had an intimacy to them.

Secondly, in an age of blogs, discord chats, and social media, I feel something is missing – longer but private communications. The kind of thing that lacks worries about public appearance but also allows for contemplative thought. It also allows for timeshifting in a busy and chaotic age.

I visualize this as a small, tight group of people exchanging communications in longer form. Such exchanges would gradually form a dialogue about whatever subjects are at hand. People may also participate in multiple related or unrelated groups, further increasing insight. The works exchange may become books, or records, or just sit in email boxes – but it’ll be a deeper exchange of ideas.

I’m going to bounce this off a few people I know and see if they want to try it. Let me know if you give it a shot as well – or want to try it!

Steven Savage

Writer’s Sharing Good And Bad

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

As mentioned previously, I help run a group of writers who are current and future self-publishers. Each month we meet to discuss how to improve and focus on a given subject. Once again, I have a useful insight from the event.

In this case, our specific theme for November was thought-provoking – we discussed what we were our good and bad points as writers. The idea wasn’t venting or bragging – the idea was to see how we could help each other out. Someone’s good practices could make up for another person’s flaws.

So the first thing we did was go around discussing what we’re good at – and why. The results were productive because we went in-depth – not just what we did, but why and how we learned it. The group quickly had an idea of new ways to be better at writing and how to get there.

For example, we realized that several of us used a “when in doubt, power through” approach to writing. The idea was to write no matter what and edit later. Someone who spent three days straight writing an entire book’s first draft confirmed this worked.

And, yes, I am tempted to try that.

When we discussed our flaws, however, something became apparent. We had a lot of the same issues, just in different forms or manifestations. Not only did this build a sense of camaraderie – and relief – it let us share ways we dealt with our similar issues. We weren’t alone – and we had a wealth of tips to share.

I recommend this “Good and Bad” session for your writing group, team, meetup, or what have you. Come together, find what you do good and share it, see what you do poorly and help each other out. There’s a lot to be learned.

Now I have to find a free three days for an experiment . . .

Steven Savage