The Obligation of Writing

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

Lately, I’ve come to realize just how much of writing involves social obligations:

  • We join writer’s groups for support and are obligated to participate and help.
  • We pre-read for others, and in turn, they are obligated to pre-read for us.
  • We have to juggle obligations with our editors, artists, and so on.
  • We obligate ourselves to speak at conventions – then wonder how we signed up to do three panels (says the author who’s done that).

I’m sure you’ve had your own experiences of “writer’s obligations.” I’m also sure, like me, you may ask “why didn’t anyone tell us how much of writing is social obligations?” For too many writers, no one prepares us for the sheer social weight writing can carry.

For myself, I’m slowly learning to give myself space when it comes to the social demands of writing. I cannot participate in every writing group activity – or I won’t have time to write. I make time for when my fellow writers need help – while appreciating my own limits. It’s a work in progress.

I hope you can show yourself some compassion too.

But we also must remind our fellow writers that the social obligations of writing can overburden them. We can listen to them and gently remind them of their limits. We can carefully warn them when they are in danger of being overloaded. We can accept them as people who can’t do everything.

Maybe they’ll show themselves some compassion.

I’m still figuring where to go with this realization. I’d like to make it more than just a blog post. Perhaps there are discussions to be had in writer’s groups or a panel to do at a convention.

As long as I don’t get over-obligated . . .

Steven Savage

Connection Exhaustion

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

When we first started sheltering in place, I was pleased how fast my friends, family, and I used technology to keep in touch. This includes:

  • Zoom for meeting face-to-face and gaming.
  • Discord for chats, videos, and gaming.
  • Duo for video chats.
  • Facebook for some meetups.
  • Phone Text.
  • Plus miscellaneous technologies.

For all the challenges of Shelter In Place, we were all doing pretty good. I was thrilled and impressed – in fact, some of us were more connected than ever!

Then it began to become a drag. It was hard to get enthused, or schedule events. Sometimes I just wanted to be alone.

So what happened?

I began to realize this social shift had it’s side effects and wanted to share why I found this initial chance to connect exhausting.

First, I was doing plenty of meeting technology at work. After awhile, the thrill was kind of diminishing when you’re on four Zoom meetings a day. Everything began to feel the same.

Secondly, we were so connected and had so many options it was hard to know what to do or use or schedule. Old social rhythms were gone, and we had to construct new ones.

Third, the benefits of socializing had changed because we used different ways to connect. The joy of watching a movie with someone online is different than in person. A chat in text is different than a voice chat. We have to find “what works for us.”

Fourth, well, there’s a Pandemic and political change going on. All of this kinda complicates the above factors.

I’m trying to address these right now. I’m asking what I want, find what works for me, and pace myself. Oh, and keeping in mind this is going in a time of challenge and change.

So if you’re trying to connect socially these days, and at times it seems exhausting or not fulfilling, think about my experience. Ask how these factors affect you – and how you can figure what works for you.

Steven Savage

Job Basics: The Social

People And Profile

You’ve got your resume, you’ve researched your career, you’re on the search.  In fact, you may even have a good job or found one and are well on your way.  There’s one final factor I wanted to address – the social side of your job and your career.

Now I’m not talking about hanging out with your co-workers, though if you like them well enough go for it.  Nor am I talking only about Networking.  I’m talking about opportunities to both connect with people, connect professionally with people, and just have fun exist.

The hard truth about many good jobs, good careers, and successful people is that being social is part of it.  Connecting, networking, learning, joining.  It makes it part of your life and helps you meet people like yourself, and it lets you take what you want to do and do more with it.  A career, alone, isolated from the rest of your life, is not for everyone.

By making sure you socialize with people like you, with groups that do what you do, you help get a larger, visceral sense of what’s important and what’s going on.  You learn about what’s coming, you get the lingo, and in some cases you discover you really, really don’t like where things are going . . .

Finally, you can enjoy the events, parties, seminars, and more out there.  You can have fun with your career.

So here’s how to take your social side and use it in your career.

Networking And Linked In

Yeah, yeah, I’ve said this before.  Network and join LinkedIn.  I also warned that this stuff had to be repeated for a reason.  So I’m repeating it.

The thing is that good networking isn’t just about job connections, as noted, there’s often fun events, parties, etc.  You may find social opportunities with people of like professions, so go and have a little fun.

Join A Professional Association

Seriously.  Join a professional association, a group of similar professionals or future professionals.  Do it now – I’ve got a list right here.

Professional associations, at least good ones, provide resources, events, classes, and social opportunities to meet, work, and learn with people like you or people you want to be like.  I don’t care if you’re a seasoned pro or just starting out, these are the people you want to hang out with – moreso if you’re new to the scene.

The opportunities are vast:

  • You meet people of similar interest – and whom you can learn from.
  • There are resources, classes, magazines and more to help you out and keep you connected.
  • Assorted events are usually held by associations, from serious classes to charities to fun social events.
  • Meeting people like yourself can help you get motivated.
  • It looks good on a resume.

Really, go join a professional association.

Join A Club Or Meetup

If you’re near any kind of large city – and even if you’re not – there’s probably assorted clubs or events at that fit your professional interests.  You just have to look for them online, in your local paper, and so on.

The benefits are the same as a professional association – people to meet, changes to socialize, opportunities to learn.  It’s often less formal, there’s not certifications, and so on.  But it’s also something right in your area.

The lack of formality (compared to a professional association) is also an advantage.  It’s more fun, more social, more relaxed, and may do things no professional association would think of – or dare.  If you worry about getting “too professional” a club or meetup may be just for you.

Start A Group Project

I always recommend people have A Project to do – some big effort they do, at least partially for fun, that uses their skills and interests.  It could be a book, blog, indie game, something.  But having A Project means you’re focusing, learning, growing, and doing something for real.  It teaches and uses both skills and meta-skills like organization.

So why not do one with other people.

Now I’m not saying you have to do this.  It’s just a suggestion.  But it has advantages:

  • You can do more with a team (usually) than on your own.
  • You meet people, socialize, and connect both within and without your area of interest – you may want to write on video games, and meeting a webmaster may give you a new appreciation of technology.
  • You can work with each other to promote your work.
  • You learn to work with people
  • There are pure social and fun opportunities.

For me, my Group Project is Crossroads Alpha, and it’s definitely been worth it.

Look For Lectures, Seminars, And More

You want to learn more about your profession, and meet people of similar interests, and have fun.  Go look for lectures, seminars, and film showings in your professional vein.

If you’ve got colleges, schools, museums, libraries, and so forth within a reasonable distance, there’s probably a few lectures and so forth going on now and then – and all the time if you’re in a major urban area.  A check of a college website, local news site, and so on will give you enough.  Some colleges even send out information on adult education and seminars in the ancient form called “mail.”

These are a grab-bag, dependent on your location and the institutions there, but they provide all sorts of diversity and learning opportunities.  In a few cases local clubs and meetups may even go to said events, letting you double up the professional socialization.

And who knows, you might even be qualified to do one someday . . .

Stay Social, My Friends

The social aspect of our careers can be easily ignored or forgotten – sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes it’s not.  But by making it a part of your life, you’ll take your ambitions and your passions farther.  They won’t be isolated – they’ll be a part of your larger social picture.

And you may even have fun with your career.  Which is always nice.

– Steven Savage

Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach.  He blogs on careers at, publishes books on career and culture at, and does a site of creative tools at He can be reached at