Make It So: Cataloging Writing Places

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

This is an idea that struck me recently, an idea I liked enough to want to write it down and share it before doing it

I’m part of several writing groups and have a lot of creative friends. Often we meet for discussions.

One thing that comes up in our discussions is “we really should meet and write together.”

Then there’s the question of where. We’re in a dense urban area, which means may possible coffee houses and such to write at. We’re also in an area where the coffee houses and other writing spots get crowded because, hey, it’s a dense urban area.

I’d taken to trying out a new spot each week, and then an idea struck me. It’s an idea I’d like to try for myself, but wanted to share it with all you creatives. It’s about finding good writing spots, but also being social (and if you aren’t feeling social, you can sorta reduce that part).

It works like this.

ONE: Have your writing group come up with a list of places you might write. Yes, most will be coffee shops, because they’re basically coworking spaces where you pay by drinking coffee and eating pastries.

TWO: When a member goes out to write or draw or whatever, they select a space out of the list no one has tried yet. They let everyone know so they’re welcome to join them.

THREE: Everyone goes to said place and writes/draws or whatever. If it’s terrible or bad, feel free to move to another area of course.

FOUR: The person who started the meeting and/or the people who attended write up their experience and share it with the group. You could even keep a public blog to share with everyone in your geographic area.

FIVE: Keep an updated and ranked list of the various locations so people can go to good ones – or find new ones.

Sure it’s a simple idea. But there are various benefits:

  • First, you have a neat social thing to do with your creative groups, but one where there’s not pressure to be overly social.
  • Second, you find cool places to be creative.
  • Third, you support good local businesses.
  • Fourth, you find where not to go and avoid wasting time.
  • Fifth you might have a cool writing thing to do keeping a blog, a review, section, etc.

I hope to try something like this with my groups in the next six months or so. But give it a try yourself (especially if I get too busy to try it).

Steven Savage

Make It So: Spreading Indie Works

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

As an author, I believe in spreading the word about my fellow indie authors. I’ve been thinking about how to do this, how we can support each other in different ways to get the word out. I wanted to go beyond the usual blog tours and shared podcasts.

To that end I’ve put together a few thoughts.

Library Blitz: Libraries take book donations. Now and then I donate my books among others to libraries for stock or sale. So let’s donate the books of other indie authors to our local libraries.

Newsletter Swap: Use SurveyMonkey to find who on your newsletter would like to subscribe to the newsletters of other authors you know and get the word out.

Newsletter Plus: Could indie authors of a similar bent (location, etc.) combine to do one newsletter to share the word? Thinking that could help.

Shared Tables: A lot of us would get tables at conventions and events but we’re busy, tired, speaking, or wearing 50 pounds of cosplay. So why not gather together and have a table among authors? Ten people together could man a table for a large con effectively.

Giveaways of Others: We do book giveaways often. What if now and then you gave away work of your fellow indie authors?

Promo Together: If you have enough people do book promos, such as the ones at Prolific Words, where you can promo with a theme and cross promote tightly.

Write Together: I’ve done a few books where authors collaborated together, usually by contributing specific essays. It’s a bit of effort, but it’s a fun cross-promotional.

Little Free Friends: As noted before, why not stock other’s indie books at Little Free Libraries (within reason).

Advice Giveaways: If you’re doing panels and there are fellow indies that do advice books that are relevant, share them as prizes!

I hope that gives you a few ideas! I’m also looking for any suggestions to add!

Steven Savage

Make It So: Procedural Jogging

The exercise treadmills at my apartment complex are pretty neat – beyond a variety of options (including a game of Solitaire), they have an option to show a video that simulates walking at a location. Basically it gives you something to look at beside your heart rate, has interesting historical notes, and provides an interesting experience. Running indoors can be a might boring, and it’s an appreciated addition I take advantage of because, hey, when am I going to get to jog through scenic parts of Germany.

But it’s the same few tracks. So one day while using the treadmills I began thinking about how it could be more interesting. This conflated with my love of procedurally generated environments, including “walking simulator” Proteus and the amazing environments of the upcoming “No Man’s Sky.”

Then I asked why can’t someone create a Procedural Environment generator for these Treadmills?

Imagine this. You can select from some common setups, or tweak them from the start, and then have the display screen walk you through a generated environment. Maybe you want a desert or a forest, a sci-fi landscape or a fantasy land – set it up and explore as you exercise.

There you go. Every Treadmill trip is a new experience. One day you may walk across a ruin-filled desert, the other up a green mountain path. Maybe you’ll take a run through the Dwarf Kingdom or across an unknown world. Every time it’s different even if you choose the same basic settings.  It’d add a lot to the experience.

Now imagine taking this farther.

Perhaps you could have generated narratives, notes, or events. A bit of history-that-never was pops up here and there. A little note about the properties of an imaginary plant appears. A starship streaks across the sky and crashes nearby. The trip can feel like you’re in a real, living place.

On top of this, perhaps add a bit of gamification. Every now and then you may find an option to climb a stairway or open a door or turn left or right. The trip becomes even more engaging as you have power to affect what you see next – and you never know when the next option will pop up.

Finally, perhaps you can save your experience to share with others, even if it’s just writing down a code. Other people can see the same sites you did – and if there’s options, you can re-explore an old new world differently.

Go on people, Make It So.

  • Steve