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The Writer’s Dilemma: Volunteering!

MacBook by Michael_P


I’m at the brink of finishing a research project that I’m completing for an organization for free. Yes, you read that last word – free – correctly. I volunteer my expertise to a worthwhile organization. Over the past week and a half I have sectioned out a little bit of each day for this project. All of my work has been captured onto an excel spreadsheet that now consists of over 600 rows of useful information.

Yesterday, I started to wonder how many people would offer their services for free, especially with the project that I’m currently working on; a cumbersome project that entails an eye for detail and persistence. I had also begun to wonder if volunteering my services was a real benefit for me or an anchor strapping me down in the worse way (remember that my spreadsheet now consists of over 600 rows!). I’ve come to the conclusion that my efforts are worthy for the following reasons:

  • Most importantly – I’m donating my time to help other people;
  • I’m honing my skills as a paralegal and writer by conducting research on the internet, compiling the data I’ve found into a spreadsheet and proofreading the document for errors and consistency; and
  • By conducting this research I’m learning about a new industry.

Now, the down side of course is that I’m not getting paid for my services. That is a factor that I can’t take lightly. So, is it really worth it to volunteer my services? Good question! My answer is, for a few reasons: Yes, and for the following reasons:

  • Like I stated above – I get to hone my paralegal and writer skills;
  • I get to make new contacts, and increase my network, which can also bring in more (paying) work; and
  • I have the chance to make a worthwhile and meaningful donation to a charity or organization.

I’ve read many blog articles from writers about volunteering, and it seems as if most writers agree that volunteering is a good thing. Now, of course I wouldn’t suggest that every writer take on the massive project that I’m currently completing, but I will advocate volunteering. It’s going to feel wonderful pushing the send button and waving good-bye to my project once I’m finished. Can I ask for anything else? Well, okay – that the next project is a paying one!



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