Writers are no strangers to uncertain times. Living in a constant state of creation means living with at least one foot in chaos all the time. More than that, trying to earn a living or even just enough to give us a few spare hours to keep writing, is tricky even in the best of economic climates. And things got a whole lot trickier for writers everywhere with the explosion of global unrest earlier this year. Whether we’re thinking about ourselves, our fellow writers, or simply the state of the writing industry in general, I doubt there’s a one of us who hasn’t paused to think about ways to help writers during the pandemic.
From my vantage, writers everywhere have rallied in magnificent ways throughout this year. A few months ago, I was excited and inspired by the invitation to take part in a 14-day challenge, hosted by the website Story Embers. Their Outreach Manager, Rolena Hatfield, contacted me in June:
We’re hosting a Support the Writing Community Challenge from August 3-17. With the current state of the economy and COVID-19, writers are struggling more than ever both financially and emotionally. Writing is often a solitary job, so it’s easy to forget that other writers are struggling too. We want to empower & encourage storytellers to come together and give back to the writing community in small, meaningful ways. We also hope to raise awareness of the problems of writers so we can support each other through these challenging times.
This a big question—because we are all facing our own specific concerns and worries in these uncertain times. However, in pondering the question in preparation for this post, I kept coming back time and again to all the many ways I have been helped and encouraged throughout my career by my fellow writers—many of whom are reading this right now.
The writing community is just that—a community. It is not a competition. It is a self-sustaining circle of writers-who-read and readers-who-write, all of us supporting and enabling each other in our deep yearning pursuit of meaningful art and meaningful lives. Some of us write as a hobby. Some of us write for a living. Some of us would like to transition into writing for a living. Some of us are widely read. Some of us are not. Some of us are really good. Some of us are still working on it. But we all contribute to this vast and crucial community, both through our writing and through our encouragement of our fellows’ writing.
I am here because of you. I write because of you—just as you are, I hope, helped and encouraged by me in turn. But the time has come for all of us to up our game a little bit.
If you’re looking for ideas about how to sow a little hope, a little light, a little encouragement, even a little sustenance during these times, following are my top five ideas. Some of these ideas cost nothing more than time and goodwill. Others ask for those who are able to give a little more. To help you get started, I’m offering some gifts of my own in a giveaway that will allow each “winner” to choose one of their fellow writers as the recipient. You can enter the drawing with the widget at the bottom of the post. Winners will be drawn in two weeks, at the end of the Support the Writing Community Challenge.
1. Buy a Book, Leave a Review, Spread the Word
The most obvious ways to help any writer is to, first, buy their books and, second, do whatever you can to encourage other readers to buy as well. Most books these days are so reasonably priced that it doesn’t require much outlay to buy from the authors you most want to support. It’s such a simple thing, but to many authors even just seeing that they’ve sold one more book is a huge boost.