Tag Archives: creativity

Only You Goes Both Ways

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

“Only you can write your story,” is something I and others often tell troubled authors. No matter how unoriginal you feel your work is, your take is unique because you are unique. The world is filled with similar stories, we remiind our fellow creators, but those are at best a framework animated by a unique author’s spirit.

However it seems we get suddenly judgmental when we decide how to spend our time. Is this book truly worth reading? Should we see this movie? We’re ready to encourage others to create, but suddenly far less interested in taking in various creations. This is not saying you have to read and watch everything, but that maybe you can be a little more open to experiences because your reading and viewing is also unique.

You are the only one that can write your story, and in turn you are the only one that reads a book or sees a movie your way.

(Besides, as Serdar notes in a column that semi-inspired this one, you can just stop if something is truly awful.)

Your reading or viewing experience is just as unique as anything you create. You will have insights no one else has, and find inspiration unique to your own creativity. You will find flaws no one else saw, and take away lessons no one else will learn. However you consume an artistic experience, that experience is yours and what you take from it is yours.

As an example, let me tell you about when I read a compendium of Lupin stories, tales of the titular gentleman thief by Maurice Leblanc. I wanted to see what the fuss was about, and I had two takeaways. The first was that I didn’t get the popularity, and figured it was a cultural difference. The second was that the concise writing, even in translation, provided a good example of doing a lot with few words – Leblanc could do in a paragraph what might take another author a page. I didn’t fall in love with Lupin, but the style helped me reduce my own gratuitous wordiness.

That was my experience. Yours might be different, and perhaps if we talked we’d learn twice as much.

Guard your time, definitely. But don’t guard it so much you find you’re in a self-made prison.

Steven Savage

The Treasures of Models and Metaphors

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

As Serdar and I often discuss in our blogs, people find inspiration in areas unrelated to their projects and goals. He finds ideas from the aesthetics of music that inform his writing. I took self-help book ideas and created a worldbuilding series. Whatever your interests, sometimes the best inspiration comes from somewhere else.

I think one of the advantages of these diverse inspirations is giving you new models and metaphors.

Recently, I noted a videogame named Slipways gave me a model for stable social circles. The game involves creating a series of linked colonies that support each other. It helped me see that it was a great pattern for building social ties in these troubled times.

This insight helped me see other times I’d had inspiration from one source help me in seemingly unrelated areas of creativity as models or metaphors. My worldbuilding books take the self-help model and apply it to fictional settings. I used fractals as a metaphor for certain patterns in fiction writing. As everyone is aware, I use Agile methods for ideas and models throughout my work and feed my findings back to Agile.

Models and metaphors are ways we can move insights around from one inspiration to another. A model gives us a framework to re-envision the relationships of ideas, even if we may have to hammer a round idea through a square concept. A metaphor inspires us with a new way to see and connect information. Having a variety to use gives us more and better ways to create.

Realizing just how “unrelated inspiration” can become very related, I’m curious how I might see the world differently now. I know I’ve done this seeking of models and metaphors semi-consciously. I’m quite interested as to how I’ll see the world being more conscious of it . . .

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