Thursday, May 6, 2021

What to Do When Another Writer Offers Help

by Lynn H. Blackburn @LynnHBlackburn


Have you ever been at a conference or in a writing group and had an author offer to help you in some way? Maybe they offer to look at a few chapters of your manuscript or to let you write for their blog. They may offer to loan you some of their books on writing craft, or to go to lunch with you and talk about your career.

You might be thinking, “I would love that! That would be amazing.” And it would be.

But you know what happens far too often? Nothing. Not because the offers weren’t genuine, but because the writers who received those offers never followed through.

I understand. I’ve been known to say “Thanks, I’m good” when I’m light years away from good. This isn’t because I don’t want or need help. But I’ll still say no. Not outright of course, because that would be rude. But I get all up in my head and never take the next step.

My reasons for deflecting offers of assistance are many and varied, but here are a few I’ve been able to nail down:

1. I don’t want to bother them. This generally involves me deciding for them that they are too busy and/or important to do something for me. 

2. I don’t want to look foolish in front of them or others. This, I must confess, is just a nice way of saying “I’m too proud” combined with “I’m incredibly insecure” …. ouch.

3. I don’t think they mean it. Not really. They’re just being nice but are secretly hoping I forget the offer.

4. I don’t want to be needy. Keep in mind, I am needy, and I know it, I just don’t want to be. 

5. I don’t want to come across as pushy. Heaven forbid. This one may be mostly temperament and culture, but I can’t bear the thought of someone finding me annoying.

Does any of that resonate with you? 

If so, let me tell you that while I still find myself with opportunities to accept help, these days it’s more common for me to be the one in a position to offer help to an aspiring author. 

And today, I’m going to let you in on what I’m really thinking when I say “let’s go to lunch” or “send me your first three chapters.” 

Maybe this will help you take the plunge and say yes!

1. I am busy. I say no to a lot of things. And I truly can’t help everyone. But, if I’ve offered to do something for you, I’ve taken that into consideration. Will it take time from my already crazy schedule? Yes, it will. And that is time that I believe is worth offering to you. Which is why I did it.

2. I don’t want you to look foolish either. I know you’re nervous about showing me your writing, so if you do share it with me, I consider that an honor. And while it is likely that I will “bleed all over it,” I will do it as nicely as possible. I’m wouldn’t be doing you any favors by going easy on you, but I won’t be mean about it, and I won’t think less of you. I’ll be impressed that you want to do the hard work and learn. 

3. I did mean it, and I do hope you’ll take me up on it. I’m generally considered to be a nice person, but I’m at the point in my career where I don’t offer to do anything unless I mean it. (See #1). I’m too busy to throw offers around willy-nilly. If I make an offer, I’ve already counted the cost. 

4. Everyone needs help. I can’t think of a published author who got there on their own. Don’t believe me? Grab a book and read the acknowledgements page. 

5. I don’t want you to be pushy either. LOL. Pushy is annoying. But taking me up on an offer or even asking if I have time to do something is not being pushy. As long as you’re respectful of my time (especially if I’m on a deadline), we’re going to be just fine. 

Bottom line: Don’t be pushy. Don’t be passive.

Lest you think I’m just making all this stuff up, let me assure you, I’ve been there. 

I was sitting in a room full of writers when The Write Conversation’s fearless leader, Edie Melson, asked if anyone wanted to write for her blog. I thought I didn’t have anything to offer, but I’ve been offering it up here every month for almost eleven years. 

I had an award-winning, bestselling author offer to read my very rough draft, and I told her no. I couldn’t send that mess to her! How embarrassing would that be?! Thankfully, she didn’t let me off the hook. She told me I was making a mistake, and that she could save me a lot of time and trouble. So, I dug deep and sent it.

It worked out great for me. :) I got a mentor and dear friend out of that deal. And six books later, I still send her my crummy first drafts. 

So please, the next time an author offers to do something, say yes. You never know where it might lead!

Grace and peace,


Lynn H. Blackburn loves writing romantic suspense because her childhood fantasy was to become a spy, but her grown-up reality is that she's a huge chicken and would have been caught on her first mission. She prefers to live vicariously through her characters and loves putting them into all kinds of terrifying situations while she's sitting at home safe and sound in her pajamas! 

Lynn’s titles have won the Carol Award, the Selah Award, and the Faith, Hope, and Love Reader’s Choice Award. Her newest series kicks off in March 2021 with Unknown Threat, Book 1 in the Defend and Protect series. 

She is a frequent conference speaker and has taught writers all over the country. Lynn lives in South Carolina with her true love and their three children. You can follow her real life happily ever after by signing up for her newsletter at LYNNHBLACKBURN.COM and @LynnHBlackburn on BOOKBUBFACEBOOKTWITTERPINTEREST, and INSTAGRAM.


  1. This is so incredibly good, Lynn. It's also timely as many head to the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference this month. Thank you (and Edie) for making yourselves available to me over the years. It really does take a village to write a book. :) Thank you!

  2. Great wisdom here, Lynn. Just ask, willing to hear a no - but maybe a yes! We don’t do this writing alone.

  3. It's hard to accept help sometimes even when it's offered. Good advice I'll try to put into practice.

  4. Wonderful, helpful blog, Lynn. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Great post, Lynn. People around us are often more supportive of us and willing to help than we think. And sometimes it’s the person we don’t expect.
    Thank you of being a great example that hard work pays off.

  6. That was such a great post. Reasons 1-5 are all mine. Thanks!

  7. Such a great post, Lynn! Thank you! I think there could be another reason included in this list. At least, I can say it's one of my excuses for passing on help. The fear of reciprocity. For me, it's not that I fear having to help the other writer in turn. I love being a help to writers. It's that I fear the request for help will come at an inopportune time, or I'll be inadequate for the task, and earn the other writer's disapproval because I couldn't follow through.

  8. Thanks for great advice! I'd love for a published, experienced author to volunteer to read my draft! LOL

  9. Lynn, this was so good. I think every single writer I know will glean something from this. I know I did. Thank you!