The shiny new decade has inspired me. This blog is for my fellow writers.
I think the most important part of being in the business of writing, is to know why you are in it. By what measure will you consider yourself successful? There is a saying that “writing is the only business where no one considers you ridiculous if you earn no money.” Money may, or may not, be your motivation. But understanding your motivation will make it much more likely that you will be happy with your writing life.
Do you simply love to write, crafting stories and creating characters? Are you writing for fun, fans and family? Do you dream of winning awards for your beautiful prose? Do you want to write the Great American Novel, burning readers to the ground with your words? Do you want to be a traditionally published author, with a book on the shelves at Barnes&Noble, even if it’s the only one you ever write, and you only sell 244 copies? Do you want to make money from your writing, so that you can justify the time spent doing it, and continue to do it? Do you have one burning story to tell? Do you have more stories to tell than you could possibly write in a lifetime? Do you want to be on the NYTimes Bestseller list, and nothing else will do?
These are not mutually exclusive desires, and none are good or bad. It is most important to understand why you write.
Writing a Mission Statement for your writing can serve as a guidepost for when you get lost in the swamps of self-doubt or depressed by the ever-growing stack of rejection letters. In general, a Mission Statement should convey your reason-for-being (in this case writing) by describing your values, your target audience, your core competency and your unique attributes. This is separate from the short term goals you set for your writing, but can inform and guide them.
Here’s my mission statement, version 1.0:
To leverage my background in science, engineering, politics and life, to create compelling stories and characters that pose moral questions to young readers and make them think. To have every story be an improvement in craft. To be a leader and member of a supportive writing community, through blogs, critiques, and social networking. To create a body of work, including novels and short stories, that reaches a large number of young readers, to provide the greatest impact on young lives.
Do you have a mission statement, even if less formally posed? Please share!
Coming up on Monday: Ink Spells Reason-to-Be. Because we are feeling very philosophical today.