Category Archives: Creativity

When Your Thing Becomes Your Thing

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com 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

In The Library Of The Mind

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

I’m writing this in 2021, a year of plague, political unrest, and climate change. As I write it, I find myself asking what value my writing has and how it can live on to help people. If you are a writer, artist, or other creative, such doubts and concerns may plague you as well.

We can hope people buy our books, treasure them, and pass them on. Perhaps our works will live on as legacies. Maybe we can make donations to libraries or Little Free Libraries. We may reach people unborn, when they find a peculiar book on a shelf.

But books rot, and decay, and fall apart.

Perhaps we can live on in electronic formats. The internet spans the world, and data storage is cheap. Our legacy may be in electrons, pieces of ourselves in a digital afterlife of ebooks.

But can we count on those who distribute them? Businesses are self-interested, and technology changes.

All of this, all of this counts on people taking an interest in our works. Even if our mark is made in libraries and scrawled on silicon, people may not care.

I won’t lie. I certainly hope my work leaves a legacy, that it is read after I am gone. I hope enough of the world is here, so I have a chance to enlighten or entertain or confuse someone after I’m gone.

But I’ve learned – again and again – that a good writer wants to make an impression now.

Many an author I’ve met speaks of “that one person” – the person whose life changed due to their book. I’ve had that experience, and to see your work change a life reminds you that your creations matter. You make an impression.

Then there are the reviews. That one review on a website that says your book made a difference. Maybe you weren’t a life-changer, but you made their life a bit better. You make an impression.

There are sales, newsletters, blog posts like this one. Each one is a chance to reach people. Each is a chance to make an impression.

These impressions we make don’t end. They shape lives, direct people, and change them. Those changes live on in what they do, who they talk to, and how they think. If you wish, you can easily think of it as obvious karma.

Maybe we even make the world better enough that it outlasts the troubles we’ve created.

Our work, first and foremost, must improve others. Let it live in the libraries of the mind.

Steven Savage

It Was Always Your Story

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

My fellow writer Serdar is busy working on Unmortal, his next novel, but has just announced the work to follow. He’ll be writing “Charisma,” a story that started as a practice book cover with a Geisha and a dog. Our crowd latched onto the intriguing cover, and in time he evolved an actual story – of a woman and her pet in a world where coolness is power. 

Serdar went through several iterations to make the story his – as he notes, “This, whatever it is I have here, I’m the only one who can write it as far as I know.” Those are good words for any creative to live by – create the thing that only you can create.

Living by those words is the problem, as we face many challenges to do otherwise.

We want to make money and figure there’s no way “what I truly can do” will make money. We want to share but fear that what’s truly in our heart as an artist won’t reach others. We have many other fears – ridicule, misunderstanding, and more.

It can get to the point that we don’t even know what we want to create or make. It’s hard to know oneself at the best of times. It’s harder when you’re carrying the burden of fears and expectations.

I’ve come to think of the “what is the thing only I can make” is best answered by getting out there and doing it. I’m not saying you can snap your fingers and make your fears and questions vanish; I’m saying you might as well move forward anyway.

Write, draw, create, plot. Rewrite, redraw, replot.

You’re going to doubt yourself and your ideas. You’re going to question yourself and who you are. This doesn’t alienate you – it makes you like almost all of your fellow creatives.

But if you keep moving down the road, there’s a chance you’re going to meet yourself and figure out what’s the thing only you can do.

Your own super-cool Geisha with a dog is out there.

Steven Savage