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July 16, 2013

Are You Sharing Your Gifts?

Gift box with text: Are You Sharing Your Gifts? To: Writers

I’ve been thinking lately about what it means to have gifts. We all have some sort of gift, some talent or skill we’re better at than most. More importantly, I’ve also been thinking about what we should do with our gifts.

In most schools, kids at the top of the class are labeled “gifted.” Dictionary.com defines “gifted” as:

  1. having great special talent or ability: the debut of a gifted artist.
  2. having exceptionally high intelligence: gifted children.

Personally, I like that top definition for both cases because of the example phrase: “the debut of a gifted artist.” In other words, that first definition not only focuses on a special talent or ability, but also implies using and sharing that talent.

We Need to Give Our Gifts to Others

That sharing is a good thing. What good is a talent or ability—or exceptional intelligence—if it’s tucked away and never used? Gifts are to be shared.

Instead of thinking of some as “being gifted” and others not, I believe we all have special talents and skills. That means we all have something we should consider gifting or sharing with the world.

The talents and skills we have aren’t just something we’ve been given, they’re also gifts we’re supposed to give to others. We can be the gifters, not merely the giftees.

My Efforts to Share

It was with that attitude that I spent several days last week working on my website. I know I have a gift for teaching, explaining, and sharing what I’ve learned about writing. Between my blog posts and my worksheets, I frequently receive notes from writers saying something I created is saving their story. Love that!

But if what I do is so helpful to others, I realized I should make those resources more accessible. So I redesigned elements of my website to make it easier for everyone to find the resources I’ve accumulated.

I added a For Writers section to my menu bar on top, which leads to a landing page for all the writing resource I have here, like the worksheets I’ve created, the workshops I present, and the new editing services I announced last week. I also spread the love and included links to some of my favorite writing blogs created by others. (Soon, I’ll be listing some of my favorite writing resource books too.)

In addition, that “For Writers” page also includes a menu of several categories for my blog posts. Visitors will see the “For Writers: Tips & Advice” menu in the sidebar of my website as well.

Rolling all that out meant I had to create several new pages, go through all my 300+ blog posts to add appropriate tags, and design a custom widget. Fun, right? *smile*

Why I Thought the Project Was Important

Yes, it was a lot of work and took a lot of time, but I’ve been meaning to create that menu on my blog for over a year. Usually those “meaning to” projects are low on the priority list and never happen unless we’re desperate to avoid an even worse project.

I made this one a priority because I know that not everyone has the experience or the skills to do what I do. I don’t say that to brag. We all start as newbies.

When I first started, I needed to inhale every writing tip I could. After my first draft, I needed editing tips. When I started my blog, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. Etc., etc.

I hope that by sharing my knowledge and making it more accessible, I’ll be helping the next set of writers. As Kristen Lamb has said about the MyWANA community, this is an attitude of serving others. For that same reason, I asked last week for suggestions of other writing worksheets.

My New “For Writers: Tips & Advice” Menu

I didn’t remove any element of my blog, so if you usually just look at my most recent post, use the search field in the sidebar, or click on tags, etc., nothing will change.

However, if you’re exploring a certain aspect of writing, publishing, or writing life, I have a new menu for you (available on my For Writers page and in my sidebar):

(Each category name links to a page that lists some of the sample topics covered in that section. Below that introduction are all the posts with that tag. Most posts appear in only one category.)

I hope this menu and all the new pages will help people find information for whichever stage they’re exploring in their writing journey. If anyone has suggestions for what else I can do, please let me know in the comments.

What Are Your Gifts? How Are You Sharing Them?

Because of the nature of my gifts, I chose to use my website for giving that gift to others. But everyone has different gifts, and we each have to decide how we can best share those with others.

Some of us will focus on our stories. Maybe we write fantastically inspirational stories that give people hope or let them know they’re not alone. Some of us will branch into non-fiction (which is sort of what I have here). Some of us have additional gifts outside of writing, and we might share our passions in other arenas.

The important thing is recognizing that our talents, skills, and abilities don’t do any good if we keeping them for ourselves. But if we treat them as a gift we should be giving to others, we’ll find new ways to connect with others and help them in their life. And that’s the kind of gift that’s better to give than receive. *smile*

Do you agree that gifts should be shared? Do you know what your gifts are? Have you figured out a way to share them with others? Do you have suggestions on what else I could do with my “For Writers” section?

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Serena Yung
Serena Yung

This is an irrelevant comment, but in one of my psych classes, there was a pretty persuasive study with lots of research support suggesting that there is no such thing as gifts or natural talents! That it is all about the amount of practice you had. It’s a pretty controversial theory, but one of the most convincing parts to me about their studies, was that world-class musicians are rarely ever prodigies–what distinguished them was not their early talent, but an early ardent passion for music. Also, prodigies seldom become world-class musicians. So these studies and many others convinced me now that it’s all about how passionate you are and subsequently how many (productive) hours you put into an area of expertise. The more practice you are, the better you are. And what looks like a gift or talent, is actually the result of a much greater amount of practice than most other people. Anyway, wasn’t that irrelevant? 😀 Ahem. I thoroughly agree with you that we should use our experience, skills, or even expertise to help others, and not just keep them to ourselves. Such sharing and helping makes the world happier–and better. 🙂 I myself often tell my writer friends that they can always send stuff for me to read and give feedback on. Some do, and we have a lot of fun talking about their work, what its strengths are and what they could do to make it even better. Some of my friends are very shy though,…  — Read More »

Melissa Maygrove

Great post! Yes, I agree we should share our gifts with others.
Tweeting this… 🙂

Mary Beth Lee

Wow, Jami! What an amazing gift of time and information! I’ve made a concerted effort to give time critiquing. I guess it’s paying it forward to those who’ve critiqued my work over the years. 🙂
I can’t imagine the time it took you to revamp the site. I think you’re right about sharing our gifts. It is important to do so.

Jane G
Jane G

Thanks for a great piece. I believe that sharing our talents is the point of all work, and I love seeing more and more recognition of it.

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