The Practice of Creativity

Crafting Your Writer’s Mission Statement & Affirmations-366Days#164

Posted on: June 12, 2016

Affirmations-366Days#164: I experience the clarity and power of creating a mission statement for my writing life.
For new readers, here’s why I’m committing to writing affirmations, about the creative process, during the next 366 days.

Why do you write? Because you envision a community of readers? Because you love the craft? Because you want to see your name in print? Writers write for a host of reasons. Some of those reasons we consciously know and some reasons may exist under the surface. Crafting a writer’s mission statement can bring all of those reasons to the surface.

I first heard about the concept of a writer’s mission statement listening to Joanna Penn’s excellent podcast called, The Creative Penn. She was interviewing Susan Kaye Quinn, a prolific author.  They were having a spirited discussion about different definitions of writing success, creating a healthy author mindset, combating fears and insecurities and the joys and challenges of indie publishing. Mission statements are commonly associated with a business or nonprofit organization. But, as Quinn explains, they can be a valuable tool for helping writers create a self-defined road map about their values and how those values reflect in the choices they make in their writing career.

Here is a snippet of the interview:

Can you explain about this mission statement and how they can put one together?

Susan: Okay. A mission statement for a writer is no different than any other organization. You can Google “How to write mission statements,” but it’s just a short paragraph that really distills down your core values.

It might be ridiculed a little bit in business speak because it’s been overdone or whatever, but it’s an exercise for you as a writer to say, “What am I in this for?”

Because I think, even though we’re writers, we don’t actually sit down and write why we write. We don’t really examine that always. We might have a feel for it. We might be like, “I’ve always written stories. I’m compelled to write stories,” something like that. But to really define it, really put it into words, I think, helps to clarify our thinking.

And so for me, I actually had several different pieces to it.

One piece had to do with why I write stories and I’ll just read a little part it. It’s basically to create compelling stories and characters that pose moral questions to readers and make them think. So that gives you an idea that I like thinking stories, and that I’m going to prod my readers to think about why our characters are in these situations, and what the moral choices are there. So that’s important to me.

But then I also had other pieces to it, like I wanted every story to be an improvement in craft. I wanted to be a leader and a member of the writing community, that that was an important part to me.

Quinn goes on to talk about the other components in her mission statement. I highly recommend you listen to this very thoughtful interview (or check out the transcript).

If you’re going to try to write a mission statement, I would block out 1-2 hours over the course of a few days. You might first try mindmapping emotionally resonant words that reflect your core values.  One of my words would be ‘visibility’. One of the reasons that I write is so that I can offer stories about people who have been undervalued or invisible in mainstream society. This value then leads me to various kinds of choices as a writer. For example, it makes me more discerning about finding editors and publishers who value diversity and promoting outsider stories. It also reminds me that I want to tackle certain kinds of subjects and that I want my writing to have a positive impact in my overlapping communities.

I think you’ll enjoy this exercise. Feel free to share your writer’s mission statement here.

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Michele Tracy Berger

Michele Tracy Berger

Author, Academic, Creativity Expert I'm an award winning writer.

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