January is a month of miracles. Despite the ubiquitous bitter cold and with spring still weeks away, this month is nevertheless able to engender a sense of renewal and growth. It is a time for introspection, hope, cleansing, and new beginnings. So, who do you want to be in 2018? As author Rhett DeVane told us in her guest blog earlier this month, you, as an author, can define success on your own terms. Around the Writer’s Table wants to provide some tools for you in that journey.
What’s an Author Mission Statement?
I recently had a discussion with an author who felt she might have lost her way or become sidetracked on her 2017 writing goals, both short- and long-term. Last year, she had felt driven in a new direction for her writing, which spurred her to define some tasks she intended to accomplish over the summer. By fall, she hadn’t completed any of them. Moreover, she was distressed that the new direction she had so enthusiastically laid out for herself might, indeed, be wrong.
The direction an author defines for her writing—whether hobby or career, and no matter the genre or form—is never a matter of “right” or “wrong.”
Authenticity is the author’s truest compass.
To be authentic, though, you must know yourself. You must understand what your heart craves, be aware of what feels genuine, and move toward that. Ask yourself, “Am I living my writing life in a way I have defined for myself or how others define it for me? Am I using someone else’s definition of ‘success’ or do I have a definition that is true to who I am?” (see our last blog post)
As you seek answers to these questions, consider creating your Author Mission Statement. Most of us are familiar with the concept of a business mission statement . . . but how and why should an author have one?
An Author Mission Statement is a short declaration of your long-term intentions as a writer. Even if you are a new writer, creating a mission statement gives you focus and direction. Your Statement can keep you concentrated on work that serves you; it can guide you to focus on writing that aligns with the way you want the world to see you and what you want to leave behind. In short, it is your “why” for writing.
Benefits of an Author Mission Statement
An Author Mission Statement:
- Creates focus for your choices when faced with a myriad of distractions and opportunities.
- Establishes your underlying purpose as a writer beyond the simple goal of putting words on a page.
- Supports you in establishing day-to-day priorities and assessing when you’re straying too far from them.
- Acts as a meter or a gauge to assure you stay on course to reach your long-term goals.
- Reconnects you with your passion when times are tough or your energy is drained.
- Assures that you create a writing life on your terms, not on the expectations and preferences of others.
In summary, an Author Mission Statement provides clarity to guide you throughout your writing life.
Getting Clear on Your “Why”
Reap the benefits of the clarity an Author Mission Statement provides by working through the following questions to define your own:
- Why do you write? And why do you write in the form(s)—fiction, poetry, nonfiction, short story, novel, etc.—or the genre(s) that you write or want to write?
- What do you want to be known for? What do you want the people you care about to remember about you? Is leaving a legacy important to you?
- What are you most excited to write about? What subjects, issues, concerns, or insights really ignite your imagination or passion?
- Who do you want your readers to be? What kind of reader do you want to attract?
- What do you want that reader to get from your work? What do you want your writing to be for them: energizing, inspirational, memorable, an emotional connection, or something else altogether? What makes your writing unique?
- What core values or beliefs underpin your writing? Are there any commonalities or recurring themes in your writing?
- What’s missing from your writing life right now?
- How do/will you measure your success as a writer?
You don’t have to answer all of them. They simply provide some boundaries and a framework for you to begin. You may have immediate, instinctual responses. Or you may need time to arrive at your answers; don’t rush through them.
Your Author Mission Statement is for you—you don’t have to share it with others unless you want to. So, go deep and find what’s truly in your heart in response to these questions. Being clear about your answers will assure your Author Mission Statement represents your essence as a person and a writer.
Gina Edwards is a retreat leader, a certified creativity coach, and a book editor. She is also a writer, so she’s intimately familiar with the challenges and elation that come with being one.
She supports all writers—published and aspiring—who want to write as an act of courageous and necessary self-expression.
Walking the writer’s path hand-in-hand with her clients and students, she helps them establish a writing practice and define a creative life on their own terms.