Creative Altruism

 

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How I found the right path Blogfest

To celebrate her third blogiversary, Carrie Butler is hosting a blogfest about how authors have found their path. I’m happy to join the many other authors who are writing notes to themselves when they were first starting out on their journey. Thanks to Elizabeth Hein for letting me know about this Blogfest! Here is my note to myself.

Creative Altruism

Dear Luccia,

Don’t even try to do this alone.

I know you’ve been a writer all your life. Writing was fun and easy because you could please yourself! Intimate poems by the beach; an unshared short story on a train; a play never to be performed; unfinished novels surreptitiously scribbled during sleepless nights… Anyone can do that, and most people do, at some point in their lives.

Now you want to be a professional writer. You want to write novels which will be published. Not everyone is prepared to write for an unrestricted and unknown audience. It’s going to be a fascinating journey, but it’s a journey you can’t travel alone.

You are one of the thousands of authors who have taken the plunge into self-publishing or publishing independently, and you’re going to be the CEO of the whole process!

As well as support from friends and family, you will need beta readers, proof readers, a cover designer, formatting help, friends and support on social networks and publishing platforms, advice, encouragement, practical information, inspiration, and reviewers, among other invaluable people. You will have to pay for some of these services, but most of them will be supplied altruistically by the wonderful people you will be meeting along your journey into publishing.

Inspiration and altruism are very closely related and their interaction is mutually beneficial. Altruism means setting aside selfish desires and catering for others’ needs not expecting anything in return, although, believe me, you will receive much more than give because it will trigger off a positive chain of events for everyone involved. Your altruistic friends will inspire you, encourage you, and guide you along your path.

Inspiration and altruism will make you a better writer and most importantly a better person, because you will be inspired by the generosity of people who offer you their time and help. As well as your friends and family, you will meet, and often befriend, complete strangers who are willing to give you advice, help, and most importantly their time and their honest opinions.

When you started out, you thought the most challenging aspect of being a writer was actually writing a novel. Well, you soon found out it wasn’t. Writing a good novel is the most important thing a writer does, but it’s not the only thing, in fact, it’s the least time-consuming task self-published authors have to do. You will soon learn two important lessons; publishing is far more than writing a novel, and secondly, it is something that cannot be done alone.

You will need to be active on Goodreads where you will find invaluable advice and support in groups such as Indie Author Central, The Source, Beta Reader Group, and Making Connections.

You will also need ‘visibility’. You need to ‘exist’ as an author. In order to do so, you must have a presence in the virtual world, by means of social networks. Last but not least, you need to network with other authors for support, encouragement, motivation, and a sense of belonging to a group and a profession.

You will meet many wonderful and generous readers and authors in the coming years. People who are prepared to read other writer’s works in progress, advise them, encourage them, and help them along the long and lonely road all self-published authors must travel.

Nevertheless, this generosity needs to be more than reciprocal, you need to play it forward and assist others. You will learn that authors need to support each other with positive criticism, advice and encouragement across genres, genders and nationalities. The best way to do this is through online platforms such as blogs and other social networks. Take an interest in what other writers are doing and saying, be active and supportive, always. By practicing creative altruism, you’re supporting other authors, and you’re also supporting yourself and your profession.

If I haven’t convinced you yet, perhaps you’ll listen to Martin Luther King, Jr’s advice on the subject:

“Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.”

Be generous, be supportive, and offer positive advice. It will bounce back! But remember to keep the ball rolling and play it forward…

Luccia Gray
Author of All Hallows at Eyre Hall. Volume I of The Eyre Hall Trilogy
Rereading Jane Eyre. Luccia Gray’s Literary Blog

Permission granted to use my entry in ebook compilation

 

17 thoughts on “Creative Altruism

  1. Lucia, you’ve managed to summarize everything I’ve discovered in the last four years in a wonderfully written post. The marketing is a trial for me; Elizabeth Hein and I were at an ‘event’ we created today called Written at Panera, where we sat outside the Panera where our books were critiqued over more than a year and talked to customers about them and sold some books. Fun, but exhausting. You have to be a shameless marketer.

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  2. It is one of the oddities of writing…the solitary endeavor…you need to have a support team every step of the way. Once I figured that out (and that is was okay to “get help”) the journey was so much better.

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    1. Thanks! Pleased to meet you! I loved your letter, too. We all through ups and downs and it’s great to remind ourselves that we managed to pull through before…and we can do it time and time again…with a little help from our friends…thanks for the follow. Loved your page and followed, too!

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  3. I agree! I used to think, as many people do, that writing was a ‘solitary endeavor’, so it was a (positive) shock to realize that it’s anything but solitary…

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  4. You’ve hit the nail on the head here. I love the phrase “creative altruism.” I value my writer friends very much and feel it is worth spending time away from the keyboard to support them. They have been a lifeline for me over the years.

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    1. Thanks Elizabeth. I’m comparatively new to this ‘virtual writers’ world’ but I can already realise how valuable personally and supportive professionally it can be. I’m so glad I’m part of it…

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  5. Great letter, Luccia. And I so appreciated your statement to “be generous, be supportive, and offer positive advice”. I’ve known writers who were extremely competitive and downright mean to other writers, particularly amateurs. It doesn’t have to be that way because we all have our unique voice and there’s plenty of room for everybody. I look forward to the day when “paying it forward” is as natural as breathing.

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  6. Not being alone is so important. I was alone for years and years. I didn’t have any writer friends. I didn’t have anyone to read my work. After I started blogging, a whole new world was opened to me, and now I have many writer friends. They keep me sane and offer me invaluable advice and support. I wish I knew them all a lot sooner!

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    1. I’m glad you found other writers at last! All my writer friends are virtual, and I feel fortunate that they are so supportive and I was lycky enough to meet the first few before I even published. I love meeting new readers, writers, and bloggers every day! Pleased to meet you, too! Thanks for dropping by and commenting!

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