Category Archives: Creativity

Surviving on Projects

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

I regularly complain about how the Pandemic has affected my projects -writing, coding, etc. You, my readers, get a front-row seat to that more than you or I would like. But I must note that having projects kept me sane during the Pandemic.

The Pandemic disrupted everything in our lives. We could not do anything as we once did without the threat of infection. We watched many of our fellow citizens fail us, and we watch them continue to fail us. Nothing is the same, and humans like at least a little sameness.

But having projects – a book, a website, a podcast – gives one structure and stability. These at least act as an anchor for one’s sense of self, a place that reminds you of who you are. Writing, art, charity, and other deep passionate activities can be expressions of who you are. Projects help us survive by letting us actively be who we are.

Every time you write, or draw or phone bank, about something that matters, that’s you being you. Maintaining these projects throughout the chaos of the Pandemic keeps you from losing who you are.

I recently realized how important this was when I assessed the impact of the Pandemic on people. In discussions with friends and family, I saw how having any project kept people mentally healthy. People without projects often faired worse.

There are lessons here for us to learn about ourselves, but for others as well. As we try to move forward in the changing Pandemic, we can maintain our projects. We can also involve others who need a focus to join our projects – or start their own.

The Pandemic has a ways to go in the US, and farther to go in the world. Socializing and society is changing. Having something that matters is going to be critical for the well-being of many.

Steven Savage

Writing Advice From Non-Writers

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

Serdar did a lovely post on non-writing influences on his writing. I decided to do my own – and challenge you to do your own! We ought to share tips (send me your posts).

As for me:

Agile Methodology

(Yes, I post a lot about it, but it’s worth hitting the high points)

  • Success is in what you don’t do. The more you make unnecessary, the more waste you avoid, the better.
  • Value comes first. Know the value of what you’re doing – even if it’s just “it’s fun.” Learn not to do things that have no value.
  • Fail fast and learn.

Movies (especially indies)

  • Persistence pays off. Many amazing movies are the results of willpower.

Role-playing Games

  • Find ways to make “systems” for your writing – outlines, checklists, ways to rank characters, etc. They help you see your work anew.
  • Story and mechanics (what causes what) are inseparable.  

Software

  • Make things modular. Understand how small parts make larger things and how they connect. It also lets you “swap” things around easier.
  • Doing things right on a small level ensures success on the larger level.
  • Prototypes and rough drafts help you evaluate ideas and learn quickly. It’s also better to have something, no matter how flawed, than nothing.

Stage and Television

  • One interesting character with the right dialogue can hold a person’s attention for hours.
  • Budget lets you invest for success, but it can’t replace talent or passion.

Video Games

  • Keep up a sense of immersion at all times. Stepping out of your world should be a choice, not an accident.
  • Lore brings people into a world, but it has to be hands-on and visceral. Lore must matter and connect to deep emotions and experiences.

Steven Savage

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