3 Ways to Pay It Forward in Your Creative Career

by | Leading | 6 comments

“You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.” —John Wooden

id-100172390.jpgReview your journey in your creative career. Haven’t you received valuable nuggets from others who made a difference in your creative work? You’re thankful, but often repaying your benefactors is nearly impossible.

Then pay forward the help you received. You can help another struggling artist.

3 Ways to Pay It Forward

1. Tweets, posts, and links

id-10074109.jpgThis era of social media helps us pay forward what we’ve received.

In a tweet, a blog post, or other social media, we can share with others the nuggets that were so helpful to us.

Example: In an online course, I received a better understanding of writing in deep point of view. So, I shared what I learned in a recent blog post by sharing several of my homework examples. I directed people to the instructor’s website, her book on the subject, and her online course. Hopefully, several of my readers learned from my examples and were encouraged to buy the book or sign up for the instructor’s next class.

2. Reviews

When we like others’ work, taking the time to write honest online reviews is one of the best things we can do to help others’ in our field.


Example: An author invited others who enjoyed her book to join her promotion team. She said we could join her team for the purpose of learning how a promotion team works. I have a book coming out soon and wanted to learn how to implement such a team.

As I helped the author get the word out about her book, I learned much from her. She also took the time to promote several of my blog posts. On her team, I learned how to write reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. Now when I like a book, I promote it through writing honest reviews. Paying forward what the author did for me.

3. Mentors and teachers

id-10034692.jpgWhile I’ve grown in the craft of writing, I’m amazed at how many people have stepped up to help me. Mentoring others pays forward the help we receive from our mentors. Teaching classes or workshops, or simply sharing what we’ve learned with our critique groups pays it forward also.

Example: I moved into a small rural community. A woman in my new church gave me a newspaper clipping about a local writers’ group.

The president of the writers’ group is an editor for a small publishing company. She took me under her wing. She encourages me, alerts me to valuable writing information, sends me links to opportunities, and invites me to teach elements of the craft in our local group.

I’m happy to lead workshops to pay forward her help. I believe God used the woman in my church to provide me with this wonderful mentor.


  • You can pay forward the help you’ve received from others in your creative craft.
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How have you paid forward help you’ve received?

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  1. Marcia A. Lahti

    I don’t think I’ve ever deliberately paid something forward until this week. I experienced depression after my second child. Some lady, who I later learned was a church caller, kept showing up at my house once a week. We talked while I folded diapers. Another friend would bring me with my two kids to her house and talk to me while she went about her daily schedule. My mom-in-law came for a while and had me potting flowers and taking my kids for walks. She made me three skirts. Even the lady across the street would invite my oldest to make cookies. I would like to pay the kindness of these women forward by giving my time to woman with a two-year old and twin one year olds.

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      That would be like thousands paid forward for that woman with the three little ones. I hope God gives you an extra measure of energy, Marcia.

  2. Vie Herlocker

    Zoe–you are too kind. My entire life I’ve been blessed with mentors who opened doors for me, people who opened their hands and let me fly.I learned early on that my success was really only measured by the success of those that I could help in some small way. Nothing blesses me more than being a cheerleader for others. You are one of those special writers with so much potential! I know that God has great plans for your writing and your teaching other writers!

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      Vie, you have always been so encouraging. I’ll keep trying to pay it forward.

  3. donnawinters

    God has recently brought opportunities for me to help others. First, I started an online site to help writers and small publishers. Next, someone who had been a reader of my books needed help in publishing a novel she had worked on for 24 years. She acknowledged me in her book, thanking me for my assistance. I wasn’t expecting that but how nice to read it in her book! Recently, through a PBS announcement mentioning my author website, a young married couple writing their first children’s book contacted me for guidance. I have just finished reading the first few chapters of their book and as soon as I post this, I am going offline to write up a series of steps they can take to improve their writing and move toward publication. I have another project that will be paying it forward, too. I wrote an extremely brief (9000 words) account of an experience we had with the adoption of an older shelter dog. The book is now published and I am working with the shelter where we have adopted two older dogs to use it as a fundraiser for their cause. I plan to use the book in that same way for shelters across my state, and if possible, across the nation. As you can tell from this overly long response, I am a wholehearted believer in paying it forward. Blessings return to you in abundance when you help others.

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      Awesome examples, Donna. If everyone practiced Pay It Forward, what a nicer world this would be.

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