8 Ways You Can Grow Your Creative Work While Helping Others

by | Creating | 14 comments

“Help others achieve their dreams and you will achieve yours.” — Les Brown

Image courtesy of adamr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of adamr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

You want to help others, but you’re drowning in getting everything done for your own creative work.

I experienced this early in my writing career. Then one day, I knew the answer to an author’s research question she’d asked on an author email loop. I answered her, and from her gracious thanks, I realized when my research failed, I could ask authors on the loop to help me.

Here are 8 ways helping others boosted my creative work. I hope you can adapt them to your creative work.

8 Ways I Helped Others and Grew My Creative WorkBusiness Discussion

1. I joined critique groups. Thinking critically about another’s writing and story teaches me what works and what doesn’t. I can heed these things in my work. Also, I want to give others correct suggestions. So, I look up what I question in their work, and learn. As I mature in critiquing, I discern what’s important to suggest and what’s better left alone. I’ve developed lasting relationships.

2. I accepted an author’s search for “influencers,” people who help spread the word about an author’s upcoming novel. Although a novice then, I interested some people in her book. I read several of her novels and kept in touch with her. Now years later, she’s agreed to read my upcoming book as a potential endorser.

bookstore3. I volunteered at the American Christian Fiction Writers conference bookstore a few times. Working among a well-populated cross section of Christian fiction, I discovered the many genres, which helped me select a genre that fit me. This year I’ve volunteered to be a reporter for the ACFW publication. I’ll report on one conference workshop. Another skill I’ll learn.

4. I joined local writers groups and have given presentations and worked on their boards. Besides absorbing much while developing the content of presentations, I’ve honed the skill of speaking. This will help in promoting my novel. Working on the boards has provided me closer relationships with other authors. And I’ve picked up much about the business of being an author.

Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

5. I created a blog to help others use their creativity and perform the tasks related to their creative work. Writing the posts has given me a greater appreciation for the creativity God has given others and me. I recognize how creativity has sustained me in everything over the years.

6. I started writing book reviews for the books I’ve enjoyed. Collecting the aspects that engaged me in the stories, directs me to what I want to emulate in my stories.

Image courtesy of phanlop88 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of phanlop88 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

7. I promote other authors. This has forced me to become adequate in using Twitter, Goodreads, Facebook, and guest blogging in both directions. In joining an author’s promotion team, I’m learning the tasks and how such a team works.

8. I pray for authors, editors, and agents. I understand much about the challenges and joys of a writing career, especially from Gods perspective.

After helping in these ways over the years, I’ve discovered an unexpected bonus to my career. People have learned who I am. That can only help in a career where exposure is crucial.

What examples do you have in which helping others has helped in your creative work?

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  1. Connie Almony (@ConnieAlmony)

    This is so important. Writing is not really a solitary effort. I’ve benefitted from so many authors who’ve helped me, and I hope I’ve helped a few along the way. I have to say I learn as much from critiquing others work as I do receiving their critiques. Brainstorming groups are also good as well.

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      I’m with you, Connie, about learning as much critiquing as being critiqued.

  2. MaryAnn Diorio

    Excellent post, Zoe! Thank you for writing it. We all need one another, and it is a joy to be of help to fellow writers as the occasion arises.


    MaryAnn Diorio, PhD, MFA
    Novelist & Poet
    Truth through Fiction®
    Harbourlight Books, 2012

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      Yes! I agree, MaryAnn, it is a joy to be of help to others and see them shine.

  3. Anonymous

    Exactly! I’ve been trying to recruit people to join our Thurs. night paint class at the Arts Center, and I’ve basically been giving them the same bullet points. Even if you’re an established artist who has figured out how and what you like to paint (or write), it is still good for you and your continued growth to hang out and discuss, share, and work with others. -G

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      G, I love having an artist chime in that sharing and working with others is important.

  4. Cleo Lampos

    I agree with you that you need to become involved in the writing community at large. I love my library’s writing group and open mic opportunities. Have met many of the community’s aspiring authors from various genres.

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      Cleo, I’m at the American Christian Writers Conference right now, and it has been so good to be with the writing community. Went to dinner with my agent’s authors. Learned much about screen writing from one author who has been hired to write the movie script for another author’s book.

  5. Erin Unger

    Thanks Zoe, you’re right about getting out there and talking to and helping other writers. I’ve gained some great friends in my critique group. At the Greater Philly Christian Writers’ Conference, I made some great friends too who’ve been an encouragement to me and vice versa. They are a wonderful part of my growing platform.

  6. Zoe M. McCarthy

    Erin, I worked hard on my platform last year, and it’s so amazing how different it has been at this year’s ACFW conference. It’s non-stop outings and hugs with people I became friends with online. Like you expressed, if we are good friends online and at conferences we suddenly have friends everywhere that are happy to see us.

  7. Precarious Yates

    Yes–eight times! What a great article! Yes, it takes time to sow into others, but we reap what we sow. If we don’t reap our reward on this side of heaven, we will on the other side of heaven!

  8. Zoe M. McCarthy

    Yes, we reap what we sow. It’s nice when we set out to help with no motive to reap, and then are blessed.

  9. Kathryn J. Bain

    All great ideas. You can also donate a portion of the proceeds from an upcoming book to a charity.

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      Yes, I’ve heard of authors giving book signings in which they donate some of the proceeds to a charity.

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