Deb: Ten Ways of Giving, and Why They Matter for Writers

In the mad rush of the holidays, it’s easy for writers to forget all they’ve been given. Imagination. The versatility of language. A world of ideas. The joy of discovery.
Now, about giving back.
It’s been proven time and again that those who have the least give the most. And really, what’s not to like about giving? It even makes you healthy.
“People whose happiness comes primarily from doing good for others, rather than from hedonistic self-satisfaction, show a much more favorable gene profile, with less inflammation and better antibody and antiviral activity,” says Steven W. Cold, professor of medicine in UCLA, in a recent issue of AARP The Magazine.
In the spirit of generosity (and maybe even to reel in a year-end tax deduction), here are ten ways to give of your time, talent, and cash to support writers: 
  •  Recommend books you love. Every author appreciates sincere word-of-mouth praise.
  •  Mentor an emerging writer. Read, critique, coach.
  •   Donate of your time, talents, and cash to a literary nonprofit. Two of my favorites: 49 Writers and
  •  Take an active role in a literary community (or two, or three, or more). Make your writer’s group a priority, whether it’s in town or online. Attend readings, signings, and other literary events.
  •  Support the innovative efforts of writers. Check out literary projects on crowdsourcing sites. Subscribe to your favorite literary journals (mine include Alaska Quarterly Review and Cirque) or an up-and-coming periodical like Scratch.
  •  Donate to writers who share their work and charge nothing. If every reader gave only a few dollars, it would sustain bloggers like Kris Rusch and crowdsourced platforms like Wikipedia.
  •  Buy books. Digital, print—doesn’t matter. Buy them for your family, for your friends, for yourself.
  •  Review what you read. When you finish a book, take two minutes to leave your thoughts at online sites like Goodreads and Amazon. You’ll be giving writers social proof and discoverability, and you’ll be helping readers find books they’ll enjoy.
  •  Like, comment, and share the best of what you read online. It makes all the difference to those who took the time to write, most often without compensation.
  •  Email writers to let them know you enjoyed their books. The few minutes you take to write your email will multiply into days (if not weeks) of encouragement. 

To all of you who’ve given me these gifts throughout the year, thank you a thousand times over. In this season of love and light, may you find peace, inspiration, and joy.

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