Paying it forward is a big catch phrase you hear all the time. Of course, it has meaning and validity because it is a pretty good concept. Someone helps you with some aspect of your life and the best payback is taking what you now have and helping others. Very much the same way that older societies like Indians and the Ancient Chinese valued their elders for their knowledge and wisdom. The hope is that one day the child will become the elder and pass it on, or pay it forward. That is one way to look at it.
A similar, if not as often used or practiced phrase is quid pro quo. What exactly is that and how can it help you, and more specifically writers and bloggers with their lives and their work?
Quid pro quo most often means a more-or-less equal exchange or substitution of goods or services. English speakers often use the term to mean "a favor for a favor" and the phrases with almost identical meaning include: "barter", "give and take", "tit for tat", "this for that", and "you scratch my back, and I'll scratch yours."
In legal usage, quid pro quo indicates that an item or a service has been traded in return for something of value, usually when the propriety or equity of the transaction is in question. For example, under the common law, a binding contract must involve consideration: that is, the exchange of something of value for something else of economic value. In the United States, if the exchange appears excessively one sided, courts in some jurisdictions may question whether a quid pro quo did actually exist and the contract may be void by law.
You scratch my back, I will scratch yours. That is something I heard many times growing up. And I have never forgot it. I think, as catch phrases go, it is one of the few that truly carries serious weight. In practice, life works exactly like that. The minute that someone gives but does not get back, the relationship is unequal. At some point, the giver--although they probably don't give initially with the motive to get back--will stop giving if all they are doing is giving and never getting back. Humans are like that. It works for sex, it works for love, it works for employment and compensation and it works with art. If you want someone to read your writing, unless you are so intriguing that it doesn't matter if you interact with them (which is very few of us) then you must read and comment on their work if you expect them to do the same with yours.
Of course, if your work sucks, then at some point it wont matter and nobody will read you either way. But on a simple level playing field, even if you are moderately talented, if you give some attention to others you will likely get it back. If you don't get it back, you will stop giving it.
You spend a lot of time on your work. Your writing, your blog, your poetry, your music, your painting. It could be anything. You have some courage, so you put it out there for others to read, or listen to, or view. But nobody seems to be reading, viewing, listening or commenting on it. Why is that?
For me, the answer is simple. They don't connect with you because you show no interest in connecting with them. Get involved. You have to give to get. If you want them to show an interest in your work, take time from their lives, you have to take some time from yours. I see so many who don't, I assume they just don't get this concept. Maybe when they were young like me nobody ever taught them this lesson.
Many don't want to say anything because they don't like or agree with what they just read. That is a mistake. Now, I am not saying you have to be mean, or personal about it. But if you want interaction, you have to interact. If you are not willing to give, you are not going to get. It is as simple as that.
Yes, it takes time to read others. Time that you might not have that much of. Make time. It is part of the process. If you want others to make time for you, then you have to make time for them. Give them incentive to give you feedback. Let them know that you aren't looking for only positive feedback, but that you are just looking for feedback. Constructive feedback. If they take offense to that, then just know they aren't worth the effort and they can just go on creating work that others wont bother with. Basically, they are creating for themselves. Which is fine, just that they won't get any feedback because they aren't willing to give it or receive it.
If you don't care, then you don't care. But I think most do. Just putting your work out there and not being responsive to others is basically shooting yourself in your own foot, creatively speaking. You are being social, and anti-social at the same time. At the end of the day, you are working hard for nothing. All that you do will not bear fruit because you simply are not nourishing it.
Finally, if you are part of a group, then you have to contribute to the group. You can't just be an individual in the group. If you do, you will just get ignored by those who are interacting as part of the group.