Monday, January 16, 2012

Writing a Mission Statement

I'm not a professional mission statement writer. In fact, I haven't written one or thought about one since my old days at a huge corporation that shall remain nameless. :)

But after I agreed to edit for Entangled, it suddenly hit me that I had a lot of jobs.

In my head it all made sense.

In my head there was rhyme and reason.

In my head there was order.

In my head there was focus.

On my desk was a mess.

Writers give up a lot of things for their art. [Understatement alert.]

Writers get a lot of crazy looks and dead stares when we talk about our work with non writers.

Writers spend a lot of money going to conferences, attending online classes, buying computers, paper, ink jets, how-to-write books.

Writers lose sleep. Either because we work into the dead of night or because we get up an hour early to get our pages in for the day.

There has to be a reason we're doing all this. And that reason has to be compelling -- because it has to drive us for years.

I love it when someone tells me that his or her book haunted them, that they couldn't stop thinking about it and that writing came naturally, easily.

But for the rest of us mere mortals, with kids who need us, husbands who want us, day jobs, family responsibilities to aging parents, illnesses, long commutes, weddings to plan, there has to be something that gets us to the computer -- and happily every day.

In my goal setting workshop, I tell you that goals will do that. They will get you to your desk (and happily) every day. But I only tell you that after I explain that you have to know yourself. You must know what you want and why you want it before you can set genuinely good goals.

So I set my goals this year thinking I knew myself and what I wanted and why I wanted it, but after I took the job with Entangled everything shifted. I did not have to set new goals. My goals remain the same. But I did need to remember why I was doing all this work. (LOL!)

And that's where the mission statement comes in. I Googled How to Write a Mission Statement and came up with some cool stuff. But, really, when I sat down to write mine, I simply said what I wanted to accomplish with my life, how I intended to accomplish it and how I intended to finance that.

Don't laugh. If you write a business plan, you must say how you intend to finance your plan. I just took a page from that and tucked it into my mission statement.

If you think about it, writers always have several jobs. We juggle a lot of things. It's good to know why -- and not just as a vague...I want to be successful...but a real why.

Why are you doing this?
What do you want to accomplish?
How do you intend to accomplish it?
And how do you intend to finance it?

Think about those things this week. Really think about them. Then write out a statement. Don't worry if it's actually a mission paragraph or a mission page (mine's a page!). Just tell yourself the truth of what you want and why you want it (and how you intend to accomplish it and finance it).

Then every day when you get up, read it. Remind yourself of who you are, what you want and how you intend to accomplish it...

So that when you have to bow out of the bowling league, leave the birthday party early, get up an hour before everybody else on the planet, give up TV, take your laptop on vacation...and any one of the thousand other things we do to find time to write...You won't feel bad. You'll feel justified and maybe even energized.

Because there's a reason you want to succeed as a writer and that reason is worth a few sacrifices.

Happy Monday


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