[Making the Leap] The Power of Words
Written by
Julie Luek
May 2014
Written by
Julie Luek
May 2014

When I first started writing, I had goals: start a blog, be published, build a platform. Sure as writers, we are focused on our latest or next project—the book we want to complete, the idea that is tumbling in our heads finding its polish, or the article we want to query.  But it’s not all about us, all the time. Many writers I know are also very aware of giving back. They believe there is a way to use their words--their gift--to help others.

A few writers I know have donated short stories or articles to anthologies where the proceeds go towards a cause. One such example, Overcoming Adversity: An Anthology for Andrew, is a collection of short stories, poems, and essays all about facing life’s struggles. The proceeds were donated to the college fund of a fellow writer whose son struggled with the devastating effects of cerebral palsy. Unfortunately, the young man never made it to college; his life was cut short by his disease, but the sales will continue to help others.  

Another example is the anthology, Beyond the Binding: Composers for Relief Companion Collection, a collection of stories written by 29 writers across the globe. This time the money generated is all donated to the ongoing relief efforts in the Philippines.

I am fortunate to know many of the writers in both collections. No one had to twist their arms to donate their time, talents, and words. They gave because they knew their ability and love of writing were gifts to be shared, not just horded for their own gain.

Over the past several weeks, I have been donating my time towards a local literary journal. It will never see a web page in Amazon or raise money towards a cause. It’s just a small magazine, put together by local artists in my small, mountain town. This year, the journal partnered with our local headwaters grassroots organization to promote the value of conserving water. I contributed a short essay, but more important to me, I had the honor of helping with the editing tasks.

It was such a fantastic experience. Instead of just reading dry reports on the water levels of our valley or attending a lecture on the issues of declining rainfall and increasing population and irrigation needs, readers will get to experience and feel the importance and beauty of the rivers, lakes, and irrigation needs of our valley and beyond. Gorgeous, lush photographs captured rafters, kayaks, fly fishing, icy rivers snaking through snow, a sunset glancing off the mountains and mirrored in a lake. Poems described the soul-renewing value of the river, the joy of catch and release, the music and magic of rushing water. Essays spoke of farmers, boaters, dogs splashing in water, fly fishing metaphors, and silently paddling through still waters.  

Art does more than inform, it engages emotions, thoughts, and imagination. This is why it is such a vital ingredient to change

Not all the writing was professional, but it didn’t matter.  We did our best to include at least one selection from everyone who contributed. The end product will be a loving collection by local talent. Not only did I get first glance at submissions, but the experience taught me a lot about pulling a layout like this together and allowed me to hone my sorely lacking editing skills (yes, I flipped through my Strunk and White more than once).

There’s an old Sunday School song about shining our light. One of the verses says:

Hide it under a bushel, no!

I’m going to let it shine!


So my writing friends, in the midst of making sure you’re getting down your 3000 words for the day, editing for the umpteenth time those stubborn chapters, or crafting a carefully worded query, I challenge you to think about how writers have the power and influence to change thoughts, events, and to truly make a difference.


Let your talent shine.


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  • Julie Luek

    Jenny, unfortunately the face-to-face contact with those who submitted was limited, but there will be a kind of meet n' greet at our local arts center for everyone who contributed, so hopefully I'll get to say "well done" then!

  • Julie Luek

    Thanks for giving it a read, Karen. :)

  • Very inspiring post, Julie! Thank you.

  • Julie Luek

    Hi Sherrey-- I was being positive thinking! ;)  

    Yes, I love that writers can use the very medium they love to be a force of change. Go us!

  • Sherrey Meyer

    Considering the number of words at 3,000/day, I may as well give up on getting my book completed and published! LOL! Seriously now, I agree wholeheartedly with the concept of writers giving back. Service is gratifying when nothing else is, and the good we do for our community and future generations cannot be measured. Thanks for posting a much needed reminder for us all.

  • Deborah C Linker

    I enjoyed your post Julie.  Last year I donated the sales of 50 of my poetry books to the Friends of Old Seven organization.  They have a small sales tent set up at the Old Seven Mile bridge in Marathon (the Keys).  The organization was focused on acquiring funds to refurbish this treasure, which they have since achieved.  Whenever I am in town, I help out by signing books for them, which promotes sales.  It feels good to give to a cause you are passionate about.  Thanks for the article.

  • Julie Luek

    Thea, Barbara Kingsolver has had some great things to say about using your stories for change. Her latest book, "Flight Behavior" does this in a very obvious way (too obvious maybe?) about environmental issues. But she's always seen her use of words as a vehicle for change. 

    And I'm with you-- I love being involved in the local arts. It's beautiful. 

  • Thea Constantine

    I LOVE this. I've been reading some interesting new research about how we learn and retain information told in story form much easier than in the kind of dry fact spewing they loved to throw at me in grammar school. We remember and repeat stories but when was the last time you sat around with a couple of friends and listed dates and actuary tables? That would be never in my case.

    There's also so much to be said for just throwing yourself into a local arts project and giving it your all for fun and for free. Thank Julie!

  • Julie Luek

    Becky-- yeah someone else kind of laughed at that too. It's way beyond my weekly goal, but I was cheering you all on! ;)

  • Becky Povich

    Julie, including everyone who contributed is so kind!

    Uh....but I have a question about writing...... 3,000 words a day?? I'm failing terribly! :)

  • Julie Luek

    I love how our writing can go be as "mightier than the sword" when it comes to benefiting others. 

  • I appreciate how you are using your talent to give back to the community.

  • Mardith Louisell

    Great post, Julie. Thanks so much.