Tag Archives: psychology

Old Writer Meet New Writer

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

“Put it down for a while” is advice often given to writers. Tired of your story, then take a break. Done editing, then take a break. The virtuous idea is that if you’re frustrated, tired, or just did a lot of writing, a break lets you return with fresh energy and fresh eyes.

I am a believer, if a hypocritical one, in taking a break as a writer. But as food for thought, let me suggest a break does not just give you fresh eyes – it gives you new ones.

When you finish a project or a writing setting, your mind is awhirl. Letting yourself take a break lets the lessons sink into your mind. Your break is a time of change.

When you finish a project or a writing session and take a break, your mind does other things besides writing. In that time, you take new stimuli, new ideas, new inspirations. Your break is a time of taking in other things.

When you finish a project or a writing session, a break is a chance to see a project differently. Stray ideas and unstructured contemplation let you gain new viewpoints. Your break is a time to gain new insights.

The work does not change when you take a break – but you do.  The person who returns to work after an hour or a day or a week off is literally someone else.

This viewpoint provides more than a way to discuss the nature of impermanence. It’s a reminder that sometimes you need to stop writing and rest to become the person that can continue your work. If you are tired, uninspired, etc., you may not just be in a bad state – you may be the wrong person for the job. A rest from writing is a chance to become the you that can go on.

So next time you’re tired of writing, frustrated, or just exhausted, just rest. The person you are has done their job; the person you will be can take over next. Give them space to arrive.

Steven Savage

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

The Assurance of the Unknown

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

The last few weeks have been an exercise in admitting I don’t know things. There are futures I can’t predict. There are results I can’t estimate. There are times I’m not sure I can do something.

As you can guess, it’s been a hell of a few weeks.

Yet, we’re taught not to admit our ignorance, or our inability, or our exhaustion. People tell us to be strong, to double down, to forge ahead no matter what. We fear being seen as weak if we admit we don’t know something. Such pressure drives us to pretend, to deceive, or to make things up.

My recent experiences have reminded me this isn’t true. There is great power in saying “I don’t know” about something and moving on.

There are things I desperately want to predict right now that I cannot. By admitting I cannot accept that common truth, I also have come to appreciate my adaptability. The future may be unknown, but I see I can deal with that.

There are skills I wish I were better at, but I have to develop them. Now that I admit this, I can focus on developing those skills while working within my limits. It gives me a plan.

I’m doing projects with unpredictable ends – from my writing ambitions to new challenges at work. I admit I can’t calculate what will happen, which prod me to make an effort to get the ends I want. The unknown is a canvas to paint on.

Having confronted so much unsurety, I find myself more relaxed. I’m not trying to “know it all” because of social pressure. I’m not worried over my ignorance as I’ve come to see it simply is what it is. In admitting the unknown, there’s a lot of comfort.

I often challenge my reader to know and learn more – but what is it you don’t know?

Steven Savage