“Sometimes you can’t make it on your own.”- U2
Many books have a lengthy acknowledgement page. The author thanks his agent, his first readers, his spouse and people who gave him research advice. It’s very rare that anything of worth is produced by one individual with no assistance. We all need a little help now and then. It is hard to ask for help, and sometimes it is hard to graciously accept help that is given. I was going to make separate lists of ideas for writers, librarians, parents and gamers, but I started seeing the same advice repeated.
- know what help you need and get the word out that you need it
- allow the helper space to help in his own style (within reason)
- deserve the help you get by being a person who is a helper herself
- keep a running task list going, so if unexpected help appears, you aren’t just giving out make-work
- show gratitude (sometimes hard when the help is a critique!)
- spread out the work- even if the volunteer is eager, don’t overburden her
- learn to recognize warning flags for unhelpful volunteers and have a system for harmlessly deflecting them
- only pay for help that comes with a unambiguous price tag up front
- be clear about what outcomes and goals you have, don’t assume
- find ways to reward your helpers, perhaps with a small country.