Paying It Forward

I am sick as a sewer rat so this week’s update is going to be brief.

I’ve touched on this topic in previous posts, such as The Importance of Being Beta and Where Is The Love?, but I’ll say it again. It really behooves you to participate in the writing community. Writers have a great sense of paying it forward. Every famous writer ever started out as a wanna-be author. Very few of them had an easy time of it, or a straight shot. (Rest in peace, Tom Clancy.)

For most of us, we need friends. Not necessarily friends in the business, although I’m sure that would help. Usually, our writing friends will be just like us: loquacious dreamers still scratching away on that first bestseller hopeful, cautiously internet stalking agents who will probably tell us no anyway.

But these people are GOLD. They may not technically be professionals, but they are darned good at what they do. Here are just a few pairs of shoes that your writing community can fill.

Beta Readers- Got a manuscript, but you want to get some fresh eyes on it? Just ask the people in your writing community for volunteers and you’ll see hands popping up all across the internet.

Cheerleaders- Even if they don’t have the time or the means to read your meaty tome, they will sure as heck wave those pompoms around for all your little victories and rally for all your little setbacks.

Coaches- Or they will smack you upside the head when you’re messing up a play. Chickening out on sending a query letter? They’ll call you out on it and badger you into doing what you know you have to. (Thanks, Madison!)

Sounding Boards- Folks like this are great for pinging ideas off of. They can usually tell you right away if something is sweet, cool, awkward, stupid, or just not at all what Character X would do. They can also work you through the steps until you find what does work.

Devoted Fans- After all the blood, sweat, and tears they put into polishing that draft up, don’t you think they’d want to buy the darned thing? It may not be their baby, but it’s at least their niece’s godchild or something. They care!

Free Advertising- And because they care, they will blast the trump of victory from atop Mount Olympus for all to hear. If they liked it, they’ll let their pals know. After all, they have emotional investment in the thing, too.

What’s the key in all this, though? What makes it work? Pay it forward. I LOVE that my writing pals do all these things for me. But if I didn’t do it for them, too, if I was only in it to step on their heads as I claw my way to the top, they’d dump me right on my selfish rear. Communities don’t exist to uphold one person. Communities exist to support everyone in the community. We’re all in this together. We all come with different perspective and different strengths and different blind spots. I love that my friends help me out so much. But I show that love by helping them out in return.

So go be useful! (And while you’re at it, bring me some orange juice and dicyclomine. Thanks.)

PS- Happy Thanksgiving, Canada! You guys are fantastic neighbors and we love you!

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10 thoughts on “Paying It Forward

  1. I couldn’t agree more! Writers benefit greatly from the company of other writers. That’s why I launched sprintshack.wordpress.com with a couple of my fellow Twitter writers. I LOVE the community it fosters and the encouragement I get from it (and can then offer to other writers)!

    • And may I say, I LOVE Sprint Shack. It didn’t exist when I wrote Where is the Love? but I totally would have included it. I’m in the editing stages right now, so I don’t always pipe up and account for my negative word counts (’cause those just aren’t as much fun as big fat word counts), but I love following along with Sprint Shack and Write Club and NanoPals and pretty much anyone else willing to run with me. Twitter is a definite resource for finding sprinting buds, which can be a boon when you’re feeling unmotivated to write but you still have your daily goal to hit. (Especially if you’re participating in Skye Fairwin’s Write Chain Challenge, which you all should be! Check it out at http://www.think-ink-psychology-for-writers.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/the-write-chain-challenge.html)

      • Thank you! 🙂 I’m so glad you follow along with us! We’re glad to have as many writers writing (or editing!) along with us.

        And yes! I just earned my 36th link on my write chain! I looooove that challenge – and it’s a big reason Cristina and I connected with Skye, which led to all of us launching Sprint Shack! 🙂

  2. Woohoo! Lovely to see posts like this 🙂 The writing community I’ve found online with Twitter is one of the best I’ve ever found – and I don’t mean “community” in the stuffy, structural internet way; you guys are the best because you are awesome people, and awesome people make great communities – not logistics or infrastructure or user interfaces. I love that we can and do all help one another, and really feel that anyone’s success is also my success 🙂 We’re all in the same boat, right?

    That said, get better soon! Who am i supposed to tweet at when I’m up too late?!

    • I’m just so happy the internet exists. I never would have met any of you without it. (Except Mary, who is possibly the coolest cat in Fairbanks.) It’s so easy to connect with great people these days! I work at home so I can’t really just up and leave the house and my schedule is such that it’s hard for me to make regular meetings and WINTER is such that I don’t want to leave the house for fear of my life, so the online community is perfect for me. And aren’t we smashing in our little writing dinghy? Full speed ahead!

  3. Reblogged this on A Writer's Wings and commented:
    I ran across this post and just couldn’t help but share. This is one of the things I love doing as a writer, helping other writers. I find it’s a win-win situation that helps both parties. It’s a great way to make good writing friends and contacts, as well as help with own writing. I also find it a boon for motivating myself to write. Many days, it’s seeing the progress of my fellow writers that gives me the kick in the pants to keep on writing, even when I feel my writing is getting nowhere.

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