Giving Back

Lend a helping hand where it’s needed

Writing is a lonely occupation and it can be easy to get wrapped up in one’s own book, marketing, self promotion, sales, etc. However, as writers we need to remember that whatever stage of our career we’re at, we owe some of our learning to others.

Whether it’s favourite authors, university lecturers, creative writing class tutors or feedback from publishers, we gain inspiration, support and guidance from others on a regular basis. And that’s why it’s important to give something back.

Even in the early stages of your career, you can help another writer by reviewing their book, sharing their tweets, or commenting on blog posts. You can encourage another writer – new or established – to keep going. You can buy their books, attend their launches and introduce them to other people you know they’d click with. Every helpful action counts.

Thankfully, one of the things I love about the writing community is its generosity. From bestselling authors to debut novelists, writers share a certain amount of camaraderie that extends to others in the same profession, whatever stage of their career. Rather than competitive, it’s supportive. Particularly online. But is there an element we’re forgetting?

There’s so much we can do that doesn’t involve clicking on the Retweet button. Are there any local writers you can support by spreading the word on their launch? Are there people in the local community that you can share your skills with? Can you help encourage local talent?

As you’ve all heard me mention many times, I gave up a great job in the city to live rurally and write full time. I probably should apologise to you for banging on about it so much, but in reality, I can’t! I’ve gained so much knowledge and have been made to feel so welcome in this small community of farms, fishing and artists, that I can’t stop saying how wonderful it is. Because it really is.

That’s why I’ve decided to give something back. It’s not much, but I know that the winter months are long and tedious for many children in this area. The weather dictates outdoor activities and the fishing and farming are both dangerous and difficult. The scenery is still beautiful, the people still welcoming and hardworking, but leisure activities are limited. So, I’m starting two children’s book clubs and two children’s creative writing classes in Whyte Books, the local bookstore.

Now, I’m not looking for praise – I reckon I’ll get more out of it than the kids in many ways – but I am hoping that this post makes you thinkWhat can I do as payback?

It doesn’t have to be direct teaching or take up too much of your time. Recently, friend and writer Maria Duffy suggested a #onekinddeed day, where people tweeted about something nice they did for someone else, just because they wanted to. What a lovely idea – and one that was very well received.

I believe that as writers, we need to take note of Maria’s spirit and lead by example. Why? Because talent needs to be fostered. Because rejection is tough. Because we’ve all had difficult days and we’ll all have them again. And don’t forget, there’s another generation of writers on the way, ready to inspire, engage and enthrall – they just need to know it’s possible.

What will you do today?

(With thanks to Maria for inspiring this post)


4 thoughts on “Giving Back

  1. Michelle Moloney King says:

    Best of luck with the teaching and the book club. Kids just love talking about books and sharing their stories.

    Beir bua

  2. Susan says:

    Hi Elizabeth! I agree with you. When I was out of work for a while I got a great boost out of doing volunteer work for Fighting Words ( – if you have a free day and a chance to be in the capital I would recommend it.

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