5 Ways to Help Writers During the Pandemic (+Giveaways to Get You Started)

Writers are no strangers to uncertain times. Living in a constant state of creation means living with at least one foot in chaos all the time. More than that, trying to earn a living or even just enough to give us a few spare hours to keep writing, is tricky even in the best of economic climates. And things got a whole lot trickier for writers everywhere with the explosion of global unrest earlier this year. Whether we’re thinking about ourselves, our fellow writers, or simply the state of the writing industry in general, I doubt there’s a one of us who hasn’t paused to think about ways to help writers during the pandemic.

From my vantage, writers everywhere have rallied in magnificent ways throughout this year. A few months ago, I was excited and inspired by the invitation to take part in a 14-day challenge, hosted by the website Story Embers. Their Outreach Manager, Rolena Hatfield, contacted me in June:

We’re hosting a Support the Writing Community Challenge from August 3-17. With the current state of the economy and COVID-19, writers are struggling more than ever both financially and emotionally. Writing is often a solitary job, so it’s easy to forget that other writers are struggling too. We want to empower & encourage storytellers to come together and give back to the writing community in small, meaningful ways. We also hope to raise awareness of the problems of writers so we can support each other through these challenging times.

Before you read on, I hope you’ll check out the challenge and join in. You’ll find the opportunity to enter giveaways for several care packages, some of which feature paperback versions of my writing books Outlining Your Novel, Structuring Your Novel, and Creating Character Arcs.

How Can We Help Writers During the Pandemic?

This a big question—because we are all facing our own specific concerns and worries in these uncertain times. However, in pondering the question in preparation for this post, I kept coming back time and again to all the many ways I have been helped and encouraged throughout my career by my fellow writers—many of whom are reading this right now.

The writing community is just that—a community. It is not a competition. It is a self-sustaining circle of writers-who-read and readers-who-write, all of us supporting and enabling each other in our deep yearning pursuit of meaningful art and meaningful lives. Some of us write as a hobby. Some of us write for a living. Some of us would like to transition into writing for a living. Some of us are widely read. Some of us are not. Some of us are really good. Some of us are still working on it. But we all contribute to this vast and crucial community, both through our writing and through our encouragement of our fellows’ writing.

I am here because of you. I write because of you—just as you are, I hope, helped and encouraged by me in turn. But the time has come for all of us to up our game a little bit.

If you’re looking for ideas about how to sow a little hope, a little light, a little encouragement, even a little sustenance during these times, following are my top five ideas. Some of these ideas cost nothing more than time and goodwill. Others ask for those who are able to give a little more. To help you get started, I’m offering some gifts of my own in a giveaway that will allow each “winner” to choose one of their fellow writers as the recipient. You can enter the drawing with the widget at the bottom of the post. Winners will be drawn in two weeks, at the end of the Support the Writing Community Challenge.

1. Buy a Book, Leave a Review, Spread the Word

The most obvious ways to help any writer is to, first, buy their books and, second, do whatever you can to encourage other readers to buy as well. Most books these days are so reasonably priced that it doesn’t require much outlay to buy from the authors you most want to support. It’s such a simple thing, but to many authors even just seeing that they’ve sold one more book is a huge boost.

More than that, if you enjoy the book, take the time to leave a review. Next to actual book purchases, this simple act is one of the biggest gifts to a writer. Not only does it offer social proof that encourages future sales, it also gives the author a chance to hear feedback from a happy reader.

You can even take it one step further and share your review, a photo of the book, or a quick shout out on social media. So many readers make their decisions about what books to read next based on the recommendations of friends.

These acts are so small and easy, but they mean so much to writers—both financially and certainly personally.

To Get You Started: If you are Winner #1 or #2 in the drawing (you can enter via the widget at the bottom of the post), I will buy a paperback from an author you want to support and post a picture of the book on social media.

2. Send a Note

I daresay every single person reading this blog has been, at one point or another in their lives, profoundly moved by someone else’s writing. Perhaps you might even say your life was changed. Why not send that person a note (assuming they’re still alive)? As we all know, writers live in a vacuum most of the time. With the exception of critiques and the occasional review from a stranger out in Internet-land, we receive little true feedback on our work.

You never know what dry soil your kind words may drop onto. A few years ago, in something of a synchronicity when I was going through a difficult period of questioning whether the writing life was something I was meant to continue, I started receiving what, in hindsight, feels like note after note from people who had no idea what I was going through at the time, but who literally kept saying “please don’t stop writing.”

Any random note of kindness is worth sending, but the more specific you can be the better. Think of an author (whether famous or small-time) whose writing has inspired you, stuck with you, or given you food for thought. Send them a note, leave them a review, or tag them on social media, telling them specifically what their writing has meant to you.

For example, just prior to writing this post, I received an email from Azalea Dabill (who is getting ready to publish her own book Fantastic Journey: The Soul of Imaginative Fiction and Clean Fantasy Adventure), which touched me deeply because it specifically referenced the very things I most wish my writing will accomplish—“hope and courage and joy in the journey.”

To Get You Started: If you are Winner #3 or #4, I will write an email or letter to an author friend you’d like to encourage.

3. Give a Gift: Something Fun and Kind

Birthday gifts are fun. Christmas gifts are fun. But isn’t there something extra special about random gifts? The ones that arrive “just because” and carry an underlying message that “someone is thinking about you” and “you matter”?

I have never forgotten a gift card sent to me by mystery writer Elizabeth Spann Craig as part of a random acts of kindness challenge. Or this awesome mug that Wordplayer Phong Lê designed especially for me after the publication of my novel Wayfarer:

The delight of receiving something for no reason at all other that someone appreciated you enough to send it can be a huge encouragement, especially in trying times. Right now when finances are tight for many people, even a small gift can make a big difference.

To Get You Started: If you are Winner #5 or #6, I will send a $20 Amazon gift card, in your name, to a writer you’d like to support.

4. Give a Gift: Something Useful

Even the most frivolous gifts can carry deep encouraging impact. But you can also reach out with truly useful gifts. This could be a gift of your own time and talents, in editing for someone else or helping them with their book in some other way. Or you might buy them something useful, such as a writing tool or publishing service.

Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi of Writers Helping Writers (apropos title, no?) have collated a “Services for Writers Showcase,” featuring fellow writers who also offer some sort of sideline business within the writing industry—editing, coaching, or workshopping. If you’re looking for ways to help, this is a double whammy, since a gift can aid both the writer who receives it and the writer who is paid for it.

You can also find ideas for helpful tools, resources, and services to gift your fellow writers by visiting the lists I’ve collated of:

At the end of the day, if you’re a writer, then you probably already know what would be most helpful to a fellow writer who is perhaps struggling during this time.

To Get You Started: If you are Winner #7 or #8, I will purchase the writing software Scrivener and send it as a gift to a writer friend of your choice (and I’ll throw in my Outlining Your Novel Workbook software as well).

5. Read More

What writers need most are readers. Even if you can’t afford to purchase another writer’s book, just borrowing that book from the library and curling up to read and enjoy is a tremendous gift to the author. And if you can tell the author about your experience or spread the joy to other readers, even better!

To Get You Started: I will read more. 😀 Huge sacrifice though it is, I will make it for the good of writers everywhere.


Finally, don’t forget that what you write is deeply important to your fellow writers. Keep writing your books, your blogs, even your social media posts. Your job as a writer is to use words to impact the world. Aim to impact others as this quote impacted me when someone posted it a few months ago:

Go out there and spread the power! And don’t forget to enter the drawing for a chance to win some gifts for your fellow writers.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wordplayers, tell me your opinions! What would you like to be able to do to help writers during the pandemic? Tell me in the comments!

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About K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland

K.M. Weiland is the award-winning and internationally-published author of the acclaimed writing guides Outlining Your Novel, Structuring Your Novel, and Creating Character Arcs. A native of western Nebraska, she writes historical and fantasy novels and mentors authors on her award-winning website Helping Writers Become Authors.


  1. This is such a good idea!

  2. Such a great initiative. Thank you for your help to those that need it!

  3. This is so amazing!

    Lots of times I get so wrapped up in my own writing that I forget that I’m part of a wider community. This is an encouragement to me to look around for ways I can help encourage and build up fellow writers. Thanks for doing this!

  4. Shennon Bills Helms says

    These are great ideas and wonderful offers! We are a community that performs better the stronger we grow. Even a bit of encouragement can mean the world to someone!

  5. Shennon Helms says

    These are great ideas and offers. The more we support the writing community, the stronger we grow. Sometimes even a bit of encouragement can mean the world to someone!

  6. Here is something that might help authors who have time writing and editing during the pandemic.

    I used the free and excellent e-book program Calibre, to convert my manuscript to a Kindle format (mobi). I e-mailed the book to my Kindle and read it in the format of a published book.

    Second, I used the free and excellent program Balbolka, to read the book and record an audio version in MP3. I copied the MP3 to my Sony digital voice recorder.

    My final edit consists of reading my manuscript on the Kindle and listening to it at the same time on my recorder. Tiny errors jump out and the flow is clearly shown.

    This is helpful for my final edit. Hope it helps.

  7. What a great idea!

  8. Krysten Bennett says

    Kudos! We need more of this, and not just in the writing community.

  9. This is a great idea. Thank you. M.-

  10. M.R. Spann says

    Reminds me that I need to encourage my sister more (we’re both writers and I tend to be too critical

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      There you go. “Do what’s in front of you” is a mantra I’m thinking about a lot these days.

  11. Great ideas! Thanks for sharing. And thanks for putting your words out into the world. Your “Creating Character ARCs” workbook is an essential reference for me. It really helped me better understand how a characters inward journey tied to a story’s structure.

  12. Thank you for sharing this! I think the #1 thing I can do for fellow writers during the pandemic is to support and encourage them, cheer them on. Whether it’s to encourage them that it’s okay to take some time away or to cheer a goal they met. A simple “You’re doing a great job!” or “I’m proud of you!” goes a long, long way.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Indeed. I think we’re all inclined to be harder than ever on ourselves in the midst of our stress. Sometimes we just need a reminder that we’re doing just fine.

  13. Really love this community-encouraging idea. Thank you for these suggestions!

  14. This post is motivating me to find and connect with more writers – I don’t know many others right now.

  15. Thanks for doing this. Great ideas.

  16. I wrote a poem after reading a book I deeply enjoyed, about the book. Do you think the author would appreciate it if I emailed it to them?

  17. Wonderful ideas.

    I post on Writing.com and read many new stories. I always thank them for posting their story and review many of them. I’ll read from other sites too and post thank you and encouragement. I’m retired and live on SS so I do not have a lot of discretionary where-with-all.


  18. I did #3 for my nephews a few months ago. They’re nine and 12, and the younger one likes to draw, and the elder is making up his own comics storyline. So, when my state went under lockdown, I made the boys an “activity pack”: a manga book for the 12 year old, a Superman kids comic for the younger, a how-to-draw book, and blank comic books for both. I will leave no stone unturned in getting them addicted to reading … and hopefully stoking their creativity.

    I do want to thank you, though. You linked to Kim Hudson’s “The Virgin’s Promise” a while back, and I finally got around to reading it last week, along with the Heroine’s Journey outlined in Victoria Lynn Schmidt’s “45 Master Characters.” Hudson goes more in depth, but Schmidt’s complements hers nicely.

    Both books spurred me to take a closer look at that type of journey — I actually have a spreadsheet! I’ve been comparing the journeys with the more explicit fairy tale structures used in Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, etc., and tying them to the four act structure in general. I agree the HJ is a type of fairy tale, while the hero’s journey is more mythic, although Schmidt models her story beats on a mythic figure, Inanna.

    The Heroine’s Journey is a very empowering tool to add in my writer’s toolbox. It sets up rich, character arcs and can be used in any type of genre: it’s used to great effect with the Ekaterin Vorsoisson character in the Vorkosigan sci-fi saga, it’s used in horror, particularly “Final Girl”-type horror, and in romances and comedies (“Ever After,” the Drew Barrymore version of Cinderella).

    Understanding that journey is helping me address some nagging issues I have in my own stories. I wrote this comment mainly to pitch for you to delve into the topic on your blog 🙂

    Thanks again!

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Yes! Love that book. It gave me a lot to think about and prompted me to create some tools that I’ve been using in my writing, which I’ll be sharing soon.

  19. Thank you for encouraging us! You have been such a great influence to me and I have recommended your books and blog to my friends and fellow writers.

  20. Great post! I love your point about how much of a difference something as small as a note can make in a writer’s life, especially through dry seasons like the one you experienced. Thanks for joining us for challenge. 🙂 That’s an awesome mug BTW!

  21. Kim Ashby says

    Thank you for sharing these ideas. As a newbie, I hadn’t considered that I might be able to give anything to the writing community. Now I know I was wrong. I look forward to participating through each idea you presented, and seeing if I can come up with something on my own as well.

  22. Delighted we are all engaging in this!

  23. Alexia Chantel says

    I love this post! I wish I were financially able to send gifts, but I can absolutely send words of encouragement and add more books to my library checkout!
    *Off to spread some joy*

  24. Elise Loyacano Perl says

    This is a lovely idea!

  25. Nancy Payette says

    This is a fantastic giveaway! I like to help them by leaving reviews & blog posts about their books.

  26. This was the exact ember of hope I needed to read about in order to keep moving forward. It’s always good to know there’s a writing community out there and that it isn’t a competition. Thank you so much for this post.

  27. Eliana the Writer says

    Lovely post and giveaway idea!

  28. Heather Terry says

    Thank-you for helping lead this! Very cool to see authors so interactive with their reader base and with other writers. Definitely excited to see my own writing community grow and to be a source of encouragement for others 🙂

  29. This is a really nice idea. Thanks for posting about it.

  30. I love this idea so much! And the giveaway is a great boost in helping the writing community. 🙂

  31. I love your reminder that the writing community is a community, not a competition! So good and encouraging, thank you!

  32. Fight injustice wherever you find it!

    Recently, a fellow author posted on FB about an unsolicited email she received from a ‘reader’. Suffice to say the email was nasty.

    In the same post, she also mentioned her pen-name. So I tootled off and purchased two of her novellas and read them both, back to back.

    I have no clue what the aforementioned ’reader’ was complaining about. Her work was so lovely that by the last page of the final novella, I was in tears. Happy tears. She had created an upwelling of emotions – joy, happiness and yes, those darn tears.

    I immediately went to her FB page and messaged her. Told her how much I enjoyed the read, and thanked her for making my day.

    Yes, I reviewed also. But sometimes, you really do need to reach out and tell an author what their work has meant to you.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      This is a *beautiful* story and gesture. Kudos to you! I’m sure it made a huge difference to the author.

  33. “I will read more. Huge sacrifice though it is, I will make it for the good of writers everywhere.”
    I salute your heroism! That’s a cause I can get behind. 🙂

  34. I realised today that I had been reading writing blog posts since 2009. That’s a bit of a shock. More reading and more writing required I think.

  35. Great post for writers and readers! 😊

  36. To help writers during the pandemic, I would like to purchase more books to read and leave reviews, which is what I plan to do as soon as I’m finished with my current reads.

  37. Thank you for again being a positive presence in my life and encouraging me to be a better person than I am. It’s easy for those of us juggling a paying job and writing time to forget how fortunate we are. Bless you Katie.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Yes, there are always things to be thankful for, just as there are always challenges to face.

  38. I was quite literally on the edge of just giving up and received a message on Twitter from someone who had just read one of my books and it made all the difference to me. 🙂

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      We forget how easy it is to change someone’s life for the better. Sometimes it just takes a single kind word.

  39. I too have forgotten that I’m part of a larger community and that there are ways I can help out other writers. To start, there’s a few books I’ve read with authors I’ve meant to write letters to, and this post has given me the push to do it! I’ve also started reading a friend’s work in progress and I feel proud to be able to give him any feedback I can.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Feedback is huge. I hear from any writers who are struggling because they either can’t find anyone to read for them or because they never hear back from those who do agree to read.

  40. This is a wonderful idea! Excited to tell authors how much they have touched me!

  41. Thank you for doing this! Brilliant idea, and I think I’m going to go write a letter to an author now!

  42. Great tips on things we can do. I try to encourage, comment, follow and read more. I am guessing lots of feedback can be helpful during these times.

  43. I’m a *bit* behind on my web reading list, but I sure am glad I read this one today when I needed the positive feels—and that was *before* I got to the photo of your Wayfarer mugs!

    Please know that your words impacted me in a huge way today. Thank you, Katie 🙏🏼 Stay safe and healthy.

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