Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Volunteering Your Time and Your Talents

I have a tendency to volunteer to help others free of charge, and then be confused by other people saying “you should request payment,” especially when it comes to proofreading. I don’t see green or dollar signs or it as an imposition on my time. Instead, I see a chance to do something I like, and an experience to be exposed to a different writing style than my own. Yes, I sometimes forsake my work and writing to squeeze in more opportunities to read other people’s material than I ought to, but it got me thinking.

How often do we female writers use our natural talents for activities such as volunteering to proofread a colleague’s work or writing for a non-profit organization’s newsletter without payment? Yes, our writing and editing skills could bring us money and fame (so we could hope!), but they could also be the tools that help us bring about change (i.e., if we write letters to the editor), and that could, well, help others.

This could even take as little time as playing word games at sites like www.freerice.com. As writers, we often times possess a strong vocabulary repertoire, so why not put it to good use? My workplace supervisor had passed this link along to me. By playing a game with words involved, we are helping a charity collect donations to help others. If you don’t have the time to proofread someone’s manuscript, do you at least have a few minutes to still help using your writing skill set?


Blogger Rachel said...

I see you're point and understand what you're getting at. But I'm trying to make a living as proofreader/copy editor. It's really frustrated to not get paid doing that when I need to pay rent and bills, especially when I see blatant errors on major news sites.

If I just could get paid for that, that would help make the world a better place because then I could pay my parents and friends back, pay my credit card debts and rent....And then I could also donate to the free clinic and Planned Parenthood, which I now have to use and can't pay because I don't have health care and am not getting paid....

You get the idea. If I could get paid for even HALF the proofreading I did as a favor then the world would be a MUCH better place and I would no longer be a burden on society.

10:57 AM  
Blogger Alison said...

I understand your points Rachel, having been out of school for two years and not having a full-time job myself. It's fine to charge given individual circumstances. The issue is more to find any way you can help another with your talents, hence the suggestion of even what seems like a small thing, a word game for a few minutes. Likewise, if someone else is trying to help another out gratis, to not be judgmental and hypercritical of their efforts. Do not seem them as a threat or competition particularly if they gladly yield to people who are looking for work. That's all. Lastly, never think of yourself as a burden because some always appreciate what you do - especially me. Thanks for reading and for the comment - it's my first! I wish you the best of luck and don't think for a second that I lack understanding of your perspective on this matter! -Alison

3:11 PM  

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