The Challenge of Supporting Your Fellow Creatives

(This column is posted at and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

We’d like to support our fellow creatives because we care, because they’re our friends, and because we know what we’re going through. It’s often challenging for us to do for many reasons.

  • We may have limited time and resources to help.
  • We may know creatives who aren’t good at accepting help.
  • We may know creatives who are busy.
  • We may, simply not know how to help or be able to.
  • We may have too many ways to help people and not know where to start.
  • We’re bad at helping. Some of us just lack the subtlety or knowledge.

It’s not easy, is it? I’m sure you’re nodding mentally if not physically. I’ve experienced all of these, and can’t say I’ve handled all of them well.

The challenge of helping our fellow creatives is even more complicated in that some forms of help don’t “help.” Sure you want to help that artist exercise, but buying them a gift membership to a gym may create social pressure they don’t need. You might offer to cook for a writer who’s a bit occupied, and then promptly make food they don’t like. Help that doesn’t help just becomes another problem.

To assist you – and myself – I brainstormed some ideas. How can we help our fellow creatives?

Ask: Ask what someone needs. Guess what they may be fine and you’re worrying too much.

Buy Their Stuff: I mean that goes without saying.

Check In: Look, just say hi now and then. You may find it annoys the person or they need space, but at least you know.

Connect Them: If they’re open to it, introduce them to fellow creatives, customers, and resources.

Do A Task: Someone is busy with that art project? Then pick up food for them or give them a ride.

Get Resources: Outright give that creative a new pen kit or website subscription. Holidays and birthdays are great times to do this for people who don’t like to accept help.

Gift: That creative you want to support? Buy their books, comics, etc. and use them as gifts for people. Spread the word.

Helpful Resources: This doesn’t always work, but there’s lots of great advice books, web services, software, etc. This can help – but can also burden people with something they “have” to use. Be careful.

Involve Them: I’ve taken to seeing if my fellow creatives want to do panels and events. I don’t push it, but it’s a way to get them connected and involved and having fun.

Learn: When listening and doing all of these things, learn about them and yourself.

Listen: Sometimes folks just want to talk about their project and so on. They want someone to listen – not necessarily critique.

Pre-Read/Beta Read/Critique: Sort of goes without saying.

Provide Guidance WHEN ASKED: Sometimes people are bad at asking for help, but if someone asks how you do X, show them. Be careful of providing advice unasked, that can become another burden.

Provide Resources: That creative may need your editing skill, or to borrow your sewing kit or whatever. Be open to it – or offer.

Publicize: Tell people about that cosplayer, author, artist, etc. This promotes them, connects them, and may result in them getting money which is always good.

Take a Request: That person may need a ride, a trip, some help. If they ask, keep that in mind. I mean you know, be open to it.

I hope that was helpful. It certainly go me thinking about what I do – and shouldn’t do, and can do better.

Steven Savage

Promoting Professional Geekery #1: Share Your Mistakes

Welcome to my new series – a series on Promoting Professional Geekery.

We, as profans, progeeks, and protaku take pride in our dreams – and achievements – to turn our interests into careers.  We build ourselves into our own ideals, we realize dreams others aspire to, we turn the daily grind into something far more.

It's time we promote that.

Read more

Turning Hated Expertise Around

You ever get a call from a family member to help you with a computer problem that they could have figured out with some research?

You ever have a friend doing an interview who called you to ask you what the person he was interviewing was talking about?

You ever find yourself cornered at a party or get-together to explain something about your job or industry to someone, and wondered how they didn't know something that simple?

Yeah.  Me too.  When we do something for a living, when we're truly into it – in short, when we're progeeks or would-be-progeeks – everyone uses us as a source of information.  It gets annoying.

Read more