Tuesday, March 21, 2017

WRITERS NEED RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS TOO


No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.
-         Aesop

post by Lynn

Last month, members of Leadership Wyoming launched Random Acts of Kindness Week, and judging from the posts on their Facebook page, schools, businesses, organizations and just plain people participated in droves. They got really creative too.  

Students at Sagewood Elementary in Casper created Kindness Bingo cards. Whenever a kid yelled BINGO! they got some sort of incentive. The result? 950 acts of kindness.

In Campbell County, each resident at the Legacy Living & Rehabilitation Center received flowers and a card (handmade by Sunflower Elementary students) for Valentine’s Day.

Cheyenne’s Triumph High School decided a week wasn’t enough and created the “307 Random Acts of Kindness Challenge.” Students and faculty track kind deeds that they observe and morning announcements include recognition of these kindnesses. What a great way to keep kindness going! Way to go Triumph High School!!

Which got me thinking: 

What would Random Acts of Kindness toward writers consist of?

I begged, borrowed and stole some ideas…

DURING THE WRITING PROCESS

Toys and Tools

Buy your writer his/her favorite writing tool. Sleek pen, chunky pencil—whatever is preferred. My husband (sorry, I mean Santa Claus) always tucks pens and sticky notes inside my Christmas stocking.

Sanity, Time and Space

Another thing the man in my life does is provide tech service. I have this character quirk: I am very patient with people, but not with machines. So, whenever my printer stops talking to my Lenovo for some inexplicable reason, or when drivers mysteriously absent themselves from my hard drive, I yell, “Mike!” and he steps in. Such a kindness, I cannot tell you.

Anne Stebner Steele, writer of fiction and nonfiction, puts forward this suggestion: Offer to take the kids to the park to allow your writer-spouse time to write without being disturbed.

And another bright idea from Anne: if your favorite writer has a birthday coming up, buy her/him an issue of or subscription to their favorite literary journal.

Along these lines, Susan Mark, Writing Wyoming co-blogger extraordinaire, tells spouses/partners to:

Find a hobby or other activity that gets you out of the house. If you have kids, find a way to take them with you. Give your writer some time alone in their own house. (The dog can stay.) And while you’re at it, cook a healthy dinner with actual vegetable matter involved. No, French fries don't count.

Help your writer carve out actual physical space in the house that is theirs and theirs alone. Keep your own possessions and clutter out of it. Let your writer choose what items they'll allow into their space. 

Nudges

If you’re a fellow writer, you might say to your writing buddy, “Hey, want to attend this class with me?”

Or “Let’s have coffee and do some freewriting.”

Or (Anne suggests), you can offer to proof-read a piece the writer in your life is getting ready to submit for publication.


Or ask, “Where have you submitted to? Have you thought about submitting to X?”

It’s always nice to know somebody is paying attention.

Buddy Sessions

Adair Lara, author of Naked, Drunk, and Writing: Shed Your Inhibitions and Craft a Compelling Memoir or Personal Essay, describes how she and Cynthia, a co-worker and fellow aspiring writer, started a “writing club.” It was a small club—just the two of them—but it was an idea that produced results. And it wasn’t a complicated thing:

“We’d write 500 words every weekday and give them to the other person. We’d mark the parts we liked in the other’s pieces with a yellow highlighter before returning them. … It didn’t matter what the 500 words were—we could copy them from the yellow pages or the back of the Cheeios box if we wanted to.”

The result was that they wrote and shared “any old dashed-off thing—not because it was good, but because it was due.” The yellow highlights sparked enthusiasm and confidence, and more writing.

Eventually Adair and Cynthia began sending out pieces to a section of the San Francisco Chronicle that published first-person pieces. A few got published and that led Adair to a gig as a columnist.

Wow—that’s a buddy system that really paid off!

AFTER THE BOOK IS OUT

So suppose your writer friend/spouse has done the work and the writing is published. Time to really let the kindness begin…

Pull Out Your Debit Card

Nothing says I love you like buying the book or magazine—multiple copies, even, so you can share the wealth with friends and family.

Talk It Up

Take the book everywhere with you and when you see that somebody is peeking to see the title, lean in and ask, “Have you read it yet?” Use a tone intimating that absolutely everybody is reading this book and they better get on board but quick.

Get Social

Susan Mark suggests the following: 

Post on your own blog or Tumblr if you have one. 

If you're on Twitter, tweet away about this great book, using hashtags and mentions to maximize reach.

If you're on Pinterest, create a "books I like" board and add it. You should be able to use the Amazon or Barnes & Noble link to get the book cover.

Do an Instagram post of you with your nose in the book. 

As an aside: 

Susan will be presenting a workshop at the Wyoming Writers, Inc. conference in Gillette, June 2 – 4, Blogging and More: Sailing the Social Media Seas. She will share strategies, tools, tips and tricks to help you connect with readers and build your online presence.

I can’t imagine a better person to reduce the seasickness experienced all too frequently by social media novices. I should know—she does it for me on a weekly basis.

Review, Please

Once you’ve read the book and told everybody, including your elderly aunt’s boyfriend in Santa Fe, about it, don’t stop there. Go directly to Amazon, Goodreads (then share it to Facebook), Barnes and Noble and write a review.

Shelfies

One of my favorite writers of fiction and nonfiction, Laura Pritchett, does this often on Facebook. It’s simple. Line up the books on your shelf and snap a photo. Say a few words about what you love about the writing/writers, and post.

Reading, reading and on deck:
I'm currently reading the just-out novel, The Blue Hour by Laura Pritchett. 
(Sensory, sensual, insightful about the beloved insanity of homo sapiens) 
and A Death at Tollgate Creek by Art Elser (a breath of fresh prairie air). 
Soon to read: The Luckiest Scar on Earth by Ana Maria Spagna 
(Young Adult fiction with a snowboarding protagonist named Charlotte). 
Promotion Suggestions

Speaking of Laura Pritchett, she so kindly offered me a suggestion recently—to contact the Podcast Master at Northern Colorado Writers and see if I can line up a podcast on Watch My Rising: A Recovery Anthology, which I edited last year. 

I’m on it, Laura—thanks!


“If you stop to be kind, you must swerve often from your path.

-          Mary Webb

Yes, we’re all busy. Hundreds of things scream for our attention. As writers, we need to guard our time and energies for writing. 

I get that, believe me.

But I also believe that thinking about, and performing, random acts of kindness for the writers in our lives is worth the effort. 

We're all in this together. 

I’m sure I forgot something. Anything kindnesses you would add to the list?







4 comments:

  1. Another wonderful post among many, Lynn. For the past six years, Chris Valentine have shared a haiku each morning and it is an act of kindness, because some mornings nothing seems to work. But look forward to that email from Chris with her gift each morning. And I look for the weekly gift from Susan and Lynn called Writing Wyoming. ;-)

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    1. Didn't know how long you and Chris have been haikuing each other, but that's a good long time. It IS a kindness to share with writer friends--I'd never had lasted in this writing life (ten years and counting) without that kind of connection. Thanks for being in my corner.

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  2. Lynn,
    NCW's podcast guy, Richard Keller, is out on his own now and doing podcasts through his publishing company, Wooden Pants Publishing.
    You can find out about his different podcasts and how to contact him at www.woodenpantspub.com. He's always looking for folks for his different pods.

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    1. You are so kind to fill me in on all this! Was great seeing you at the workshop. I'll email Rich ASAP.

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