“Generosity is the new currency.” Kamy said this to me at the beginning of our partnership, when we were first conceptualizing She Writes Press and what it would be in late 2011.

 

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 It’s important to remember that every author started as an unpublished writer, and as much as their merits may have led to their getting published, getting work published is an undertaking that can only happen with an inordinate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

Views: 634

Tags: ebook, generosity, media, social

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Comment by Celine Keating on December 31, 2013 at 9:29am

Thanks, Brooke, for this wonderful post. I'm reading it just in time to include your suggestions in my New Year's resolutions. One of mine will be to purchase a few SWP authors' books and then review on Amazon and Goodreads. I noticed that some of the 2013 authors have very few reviews, and so will do my part to up those numbers.  Happy holidays to you!

Comment by Karen Szklany Gault on December 19, 2013 at 8:01am
Lovely reminder of the cyclical nature of give-and-take. Have it on my agenda to participate in a "free book friday' very soon.
Comment by Susan Sparks on December 17, 2013 at 11:59am

Thanks again for this great piece Brooke!  It not only inspired Sunday's sermon, it was the basis for my recent Huffington Post blog.       Thanks for all you give and happy holidays!  Susan
Huffington Post blog.

Comment by Patricia Robertson on December 16, 2013 at 12:21pm

Love this, so many good comments too, not much more for me to say except that I've had that simple phrase, be generous, in the back of my head for past few days since reading this. A good thought to keep.

Comment by Brooke Warner on December 16, 2013 at 6:47am

Lovely, Sherrey. I've also witnessed your generosity recently since you went above and beyond with your review of my book, sharing with your online community. I so appreciated that. Happy holidays to you!

Toi, me too! I need a day a week to catch up on reading. :)

Comment by Sherrey Meyer on December 15, 2013 at 8:14pm

Brooke, exceptional post and timely. At this season of the year, gratitude and generosity seem to go hand-in-hand. My husband and I make contributions throughout our community but this isn't the kind of generosity I look to as "spending generosity." These are scheduled, planned for gifts. The kind of generosity you write about, in my mind, is the spontaneous reaching out of a hand to help another.

Recently, we have had a visitor in our church -- a lovely Southern born and bred woman of 78 years -- who moved from Valdosta, GA to Portland, OR to be near her daughter's family. Ethel is a lovely woman but so alone, so my husband Bob and I (remembering our own newness here in 1983) have stepped out and taken Ethel as our "community building project." We take her places with us -- small group gatherings, meals, etc. -- and we make sure to introduce her to friends at church and on the street when together. Sure, her daughter should be doing some of this but she is the mother of three young ones and a busy wife. And what does it hurt us to step out in love and gratitude for the person who showed us around Portland in 1983?

Comment by Toi Thomas on December 15, 2013 at 3:42pm

I must admit that I can always do better with twitter than I currently am, but I make a point to seek out other authors so I can help promote them. I interview and promote authors all the time and I’m getting better at posting reviews, I just wish I had time to read more books.

Comment by Brooke Warner on December 14, 2013 at 3:25pm

Thanks for weighing in, Nina. Always happy to see you here. :) I like the change in the meter thing. Once someone paid for my bridge toll for no reason. It was so awesome. But that was back before the days of the autotransponder thing. Now I feel like people don't do that for fear someone will have one of those and just go sailing through the toll. Some things about technology make being generous more complicated I guess.

Comment by Nina Gaby on December 13, 2013 at 8:15pm

I carry change in my pocket whenever I'm in a city, and put money in parking meters when they are about to run out. Unfortunately I think they are on to me since they've installed those new credit card machines. On a more serious note, I did a FB post promoting a book that an acquaintance was launching (Jessica Handler's Braving the Fire) which started a thread ending up with Jessica agreeing to contribute to my essay collection (which I hope to publish with She Writes). Nice karma. I also notice that women of a certain age, maybe those of us who were second wave feminists, are so much more gracious and generous and helpful to one another- not afraid of the "shout out" as you call it. Thanks for the post and the reminder to be mindful of those opportunities.

Comment by Brooke Warner on December 13, 2013 at 4:04pm

Thanks for sharing this, Cheryl. So different from what everyone else has shared, and a reminder of all the many ways we can be generous.

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