I wrote about the idea a little bit in my book because the idea stuck with me. Now, two years later, I’m still quoting her, and I’m still struck by how often I find myself to spreading this idea to writers.
The idea itself is simple: Be generous. It’s worth something. But just like money, some people know how to spend their generosity with grace and ease, while others are miserly. Some people are effortlessly generous; it’s in their DNA. For others it’s tough—being generous is not something that comes naturally—and so it requires tending to, or perhaps understanding how what goes around comes around and why it matters to be generous in public and private spaces.
For writers, being generous opens doors. It’s important to remember that every author started as an unpublished writer, and as much as their merits may have led to their getting published, getting work published is an undertaking that can only happen with an inordinate amount of support, as evidenced on the acknowledgments pages of every book you’ve ever read.
Social media has opened up even more pathways to cultivate generosity. If you pay attention you’ll see people promoting people and work they love and spreading causes everywhere. These forums where people can share what they love and care about is undeniably one of the ways social media is creating a stronger social fabric. Truly generous people will ask you to follow people they love. They’ll ask you to buy the books of people they admire. All of this is of course more powerful when it’s done with authenticity, and I’m not suggesting that you praise or promote or post about things you don’t love, but there’s no denying that generous people have doors opening to them, and people repaying favors and shout-outs. It’s just the way generosity works.
Here are several simple ways to spend your generosity:
1. Review a book you love (or even just like) on Amazon, particularly if it’s by someone you know.
2. Post about the work/workshops/books/blog posts of people you admire, and make sure to properly tag them on social media.
3. Give credit where credit’s due. If someone has influenced you or made an impression on you, make it known that this is the case. It’s more powerful to acknowledge someone publicly than privately.
4. Give lots of shout-outs. This can be as easy as participating in Follow Fridays (#FF) on Twitter, or as big as promoting someone’s work in a feature in your newsletter.
5. Respond to fellow writers’ accomplishments with words of congratulations. Even just acknowledging a milestone, like the publishing of a new book, can go a long way.
I’d love to hear ways you’ve spent your generosity, and what’s happened as a result. I will share my own powerful moment that happened just a few weeks ago when I put a call out on my monthly newsletter asking people to review my new ebook in exchange for a free copy of my book. About 40 people responded, many of them past clients, but some people I’m only loosely connected to online. It was a powerful moment for me: an ask followed by a wellspring of positive responses. All of these people took time out for me—not something that’s easy to do in our busy lives, and not something I’ll soon forget.
Generosity is a currency of abundance, just like the old song about love being something if you give it away. Just like a magic penny—give it, spend it, you’ll have so many, they’ll roll all over the floor.
Share your stories of giving or receiving generosity—and then go out and commit an act of generosity today. I will too!
*Money bag image from BigStockPhoto.com