Some Writing Experiments And Thoughts

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

Going into 2021, I’d like to quickly round up a few writing experiments I did and am planning to do. I hope it inspires everyone to try them, try their own, or tell me I’m full of it.

So let’s get to it:

The 20 Minute Prime

The “20 Minute Prime” is a habit I created to make sure I keep writing and don’t get distracted – while not pressuring myself. It works like this.

  • 20 Minutes a day I sit down and write – but it can be anything from a blog post to a book to a newsletter. As long as it wasn’t “everyday” writing like email, it was good.
  • During this 20 minutes I do nothing else. No chat, email, etc.
  • At the end of the period I can keep writing if I want to. I don’t have to avoid distractions if I don’t want.

When I do this, I rarely write only 20 minutes. Once I’m going I’m in the zone and I get a lot more done. It also seems to be faster.

So far this has been extremely successful. I make time for writing that’s not distractible, but I don’t pressure myself on what, so I don’t beat myself up over not writing the “right” thing. By doing this I get into the visceral rhythm of writing, making space for it, and often I write much more. Finally I develop a good awareness of distraction, avoiding it, and allowing it.

Deep Dives

I have tried writing books “over time” and it’s a mixed bag – it can be a grind, you can loose the big picture, etc. Also it involves timeshifting and changing focus and keeps you from being “in the flow.” Sometimes you need to dive deep for a few hours.

Inspired by someone in one of my writers group who once wrote for 20 hours on a weekend, I’m going to try marathon writing. I call these Deep Dives.

Now I don’t know if I’ll write for 20 hours over a weekend (I just may) but my goal is to set aside time to spend hours working on books. My theory is as follows:

  • I can get into the zone and write faster.
  • This leads to focus and avoids timeshifting, saving time.
  • Doing writing flushes problems out, so the more the better.
  • Whatever I don’t fix will come out in edits.
  • Sometimes finishing is the only way to fix stuff.

My first test will be my next Worldbook, which will probably write in less than a week (and possibly over a weekend). I’ll doubtlessly let people know how that goes.

That’s The Plan – So Far!

I’ll keep sharing other insights. Maybe folks would like a regular update on what I’m trying and if it worked?

Steven Savage

The (Holiday) Fire Next Time: Holidays in 2021

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

We’re not even through the holiday season of 2020, so I’d like to discuss the holiday season of 2021. No, this isn’t me jumping the gun like every store out there to cram Christmas and such into every mental cranny. Instead, I want to confront three facts that haunt us, the three “Ghosts of Christmas WTF” as it were.

  • This holiday season is not “normal.”
  • The next holiday season will not be “normal.”
  • The next holiday season should not be “normal.”

This holiday season is not “normal,” and it’s even less normal than we realize. We know about the obvious abnormal things – the Pandemic, economic collapse, a president in further mental and moral decline. But there are other things we may not notice because of those things.

Think of all the things that have changed because of the above. We’ve been barely seeing our friends, our exercise routines changed, our diets changes, and so forth. Many of us have come close to tragedy or have faced it. We’ve had abnormal after abnormal flung at us over and over so much we might not be able to acknowledge it.

So let’s acknowledge it and give ourselves a break. Don’t beat yourself up – or bother others – for not doing things “right.” It wasn’t going to be “normal.”

Such acknowledgment let us gear up for next year – because the holiday season of 2021 is going to be different too.

Next year isn’t just going to be Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, etc., in 2021. It’s going to be us recovering from the Pandemic and the economic crisis. We’ll be reliving the traumas of this year, on top of whatever holiday stressors we have. Too many of us will have empty seats at the table and fewer holiday cards to send.

The next holiday season won’t be “normal.”  Get that into your head, and you’ll be happier next year. You’ll be able to acknowledge the trauma you and others faced. You’ll know to go easy on yourself and others.

By acknowledging next year’s holidays will be different, that means we can deal with the fact that the next holiday season should not be “normal.”

We will have confronted so many issues about life – the fragility of it, our ignorance of essential workers, grinding poverty, political corruption, and more. We will want to rethink what the holidays mean and what we want to do in light of these unavoidable truths.

We will want to mourn. There will be so much sadness, so much death, and we’ll need to deal with it. During the holidays, sad things often come out – so let us prepare to deal with such things healthily.

We will want to dispense with some traditions.  How many holiday events are horrible mental grinds we never wanted to do anyway – and this Pandemic let us avoid them or ditch them? How many traditions don’t seem meaningful now? What do we need next holiday season – and in the years to come?

We will want to return to or elevate some traditions.  What holiday events now mean more to us than ever? What events should we make the center of our holidays in 2021? I usually did holiday potlucks, and believe me when I say I value them even more.

We will want to make new traditions.  What have we learned this horrible 2020 that can be dealt with by new practices? What deserves to be remembered, or despised, or forgotten? You’ve probably created or taken on other holiday traditions before – what should you make (or just appropriate) for next year?

Steven Savage