Tired Of Thinking About Money

(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)

I love a challenge.  That fuels my personal budgeting, retirement planning, and part of my writing career.  Money is a pain to deal with, but when you gamify it, it becomes fun.  Finances can be like a game, and I savor the challenge of getting it right.

As of late, I became aware of how much I thought about money.  It was more than I was comfortable with.

Could I jump on a trend and write this book?  Could I monetize this idea?  Could this book be more profitable if it was a second edition?  When you have a monetizable hobby like mine – writing – it’s easy to fall into the “money mindset” all the time (and it’s easy anyway).

When I decided to take time to have “space” for creative work, experimentation not planned works, I found monetization sneaking into my calculations.  Could I do X not Y with this fun project and make money.

My reaction to this realization was “what the hell is wrong with me?”  Why was I seeing so much in term of money – and not even in the fun way of gamifying it.

The truth is our society emphasizes monetizing everything.  Hobbies are side hustles, a job is an endless treadmill of promotions, you can sell your memorabilia, etc.  Companies want you to use their service to turn your grindset mindset into their profit – use their services, their marketing, etc.  We’re drowning in the idea that everything has to be for the money.

Worse, for the money is an excuse for bad behavior.  If it’s for the money it’s treated as OK, no matter how awful a person you are – which is probably why many a Forbes “30 over 30” young entrepreneur ends up in court.  Money excuses all ills and all ill behavior.

Thanks to this realization,  I’ve been reclaiming my vision and joy of creativity without the view of monetizing everything.  There’s space in my plans to just mess around.  I feel more free, more creative, and more connected to people.  When you remove finance from every interaction, you discover real human interactions.

I recommend my fellow creatives take a step back as well.  Are you unconsciously monetizing everything?  Maybe it’s time you stop – before you stop being a creative and just become a profit optimizing machine.  Or, worse, end up on the Forbes 30 under 30 and then in the news.

(And if you’re over 30, don’t waste the time or wisdom you have monetizing everything.)

Steven Savage

Coming To Our Separate Senses

(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)

You may remember my earlier post on “granularity” as a measure of quality of story.  My take was that good work has a level of detail, much as a visual work does.  Some works of broad tropes may be big, colorful detail (like an 8 bit game), others may have fine, subtle detail (like a realistic painting).  I felt the visual metaphor was useful.

In a discussion with my friend Serdar, he brought up how he had a similar term for good works – pungent.  That work that has a power to it that brings a reaction just the way a strong smell does.  Pleasant or unpleasant, it has a certain something that draws you in, a depth.

I went with sight as a metaphor.  He went with smell a metaphor.  I suggested we should find other metaphors using the remaining senses, but by the time the joke was made I took it seriously.  Why not experiment with metaphors to understand creativity?  My creative friends and I are always trying to find metaphors to understand what makes creative work good.

Writers, artist, cosplayers, etc. want to know what’s good, but creativity is not so easily classified.  But exchanging metaphors and comparisons like this?  That’s valuable, small signs and milestones to help us get where we’re going.

(OK now I’m using a map metaphor.  See what I mean?)

By taking a moment to think about good works as pungent (as opposed to my granular), I gain a new way to appreciate good works and improve my own.  Is this story I’m considering more soy sauce or fermented pepper paste?  Should a blog post be like a delightful smell that lures you in, or the punch-in-the-nose scent that gets your attention?  For that matter, could I be writing something so bland there’s no “scent” at all?

I invite you to exchange metaphors and brainstorm them with your creative friends.  See what kind of visceral relations and comparisons you can come up with.  Your differences will probably lead you to some informative places . . .
They may even lead to metaphors that are pungent.  Or granular.  Or use some other sense . . .

Steven Savage

Less Time Among The Dead

(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)

Over the last few months, a past project has stayed in my mind. It haunts me – could I reboot it? Transform it? Restart it? I find myself re-envisioning how to redo the project, or change it into something else, yet nothing gets done.

I’m sure that you, my fellow creative, have similar haunts. You have projects long dead, on their way there, or buried hastily in a shallow grave. Yet their ghosts are still around, wandering among your thoughts and distracting you from current, living efforts.

I’ve had to confront my current ghost and decide, “you have to rest. The rest of your descendants may pick up the torch.”  It was quite liberating, if saddening.

We can’t burn time and energy on endlessly mourning dead projects or battling their remnants in our heads. That’s time and energy that we can use to do other stuff. You can’t ignore the living and focus on the dead.

So let me take this morbid metaphor of dead projects as ghosts and suggest some ways we can deal with them from my own experience.

Put Them To Rest: It’s time to let them go; decide you don’t have time for this. Mourn, acknowledge them, and move on. You can even keep a Necropolis of undone projects, you know . . . just in case. Plus, “interring them” may remove any guilt or fear of losing ideas.

Exorcism: Maybe you need to get something out of your head forcefully. Focus on another project, and store your notes elsewhere (or behind a password). 

Resurrection: Sometimes, being haunted means it’s time to return to the project. That’s fine – just do it as part of your planning, be honest about the challenges, and accept you maybe never should have killed the project. Live and learn.

Reincarnation:  Reuse the project, but don’t revive it. Do something else in the setting, transplant your ideas elsewhere, etc. Don’t revive the project – help it find a new and hopefully better life.

Frankenstein: It’s fine to take parts of dead projects and make something new. An incredible amount of creative efforts are like this.

We can’t stay haunted forever.

I would add that as you bury or resurrect back projects, ask yourself why it was hard to get to that choice. Some self-examination will help you understand your limits, help you grow – and maybe keep you from obsessing over dead projects as much.

Spend your time with the living.

Steven Savage