While rummaging in my attic for a reference book, I rediscovered two old books. Momentarily distracted from my quest, I flipped through them, and thought about the single, unifying message of the books. It applies to all writers, from struggling wannabes to established professionals.
The keys to successful writing are twofold:
- Discovering our purpose and being on-purpose in everything we do.
- Discovering and being must be intentional.
If we are to be successful, they cannot be accidental, incidental, or occasional.
Each writer’s purpose might differ, depending on the genre, market, and audience. And, how we implement that purpose might change as we develop as writers, and even as we age. We fulfill our purpose by setting goals…but purpose is more than goals. Goals are merely mileposts on the road to fulfilling our purpose. And, purpose finds its highest fulfillment not in merely being published, but in having helped our readers in some way—informing, entertaining, or persuading them.
Our purpose remains constant even when we face problems with our writing or suffer rejection. Having purpose causes us to see our problems not as setbacks, but as opportunities to grow, improve, and discover creative solutions. As Anton Chekov wrote, “You must once and for all give up being worried about success and failures. Don’t let that concern you. It’s your duty to go on working steadily day by day, quite steadily, to be prepared for mistakes, which are inevitable, and for failures.”
I discovered my purpose long ago but I still struggle with staying on-purpose. Life has so many distractions to knock us off-purpose. We get busy living. Spouses, kids, bills, and errands demand our time and energy.
“The trick,” Harland Ellison declared, “is not to become a writer, it is to stay a writer. Day after day, year after year, book after book. And for that, you must keep on working, even when it seems beyond you.”
We must prioritize. What is most important? What will help—or hinder—the fulfillment of our purpose?
Staying on-purpose requires determination, perseverance, diligence, investment, focus, good judgment, and a commitment to continued growth and development. But these requirements do not demand perfection.
We should periodically ask and answer several key questions.
- What is our purpose?
- What motivates our writing?
- What means will fulfill our purpose, and who are we serving by it?
- What are we doing to fulfill our purpose?
Writing is often a solitary task but, to become and remain an on-purpose writer, we need what Napoleon Hill termed a “mastermind group.” This group of people will not only praise us when we get an acceptance, or have our work published, but will also be honest and straightforward enough to tell us when our writing stinks, when we need to sit down and write rather than just talk about doing it, and when we are off-purpose.
Every time you flip a light switch on or off, think about your writing. What is your purpose for writing? Are you on-purpose or off-purpose at this moment? If you’re not on-purpose, what is keeping you from being on-purpose, and fulfilling it? What can you do to get back on-purpose?
Focusing on those questions will help us become and remain on-purpose writers.
WHAT IS YOUR PURPOSE IN WRITING? PLEASE SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCE USING THE COMMENTS BOX BELOW.
Do You Have a Purpose and Platform in Place? By Patricia L. Fry
Spirit of Openness Drives My Success as a Writer By Kate Meadows
Always Keep Your Eyes and Ears Open By Susan Johnston
Statistics, Questions, and Personal Stories – How to INSTANTLY Engage Your Audience! by Katerina Nikolaeva
Writers: Have Short Stories? Dust Them Off and GET PAID!! (Includes 10 paying short story markets!) By C.M. Saunders
Dennis L. Peterson is an independent author and historian and a former editor and educator. He is an avid student of American history with a special emphasis on the history of the South. His editorial experience includes working as a senior technical editor for Lockheed Martin Energy Systems, Inc., at the historic Oak Ridge Y-12 Plant and independent work for a variety of publishers, organizations, and individuals. He has had articles on historical, educational, and religious topics published in a variety of journals and magazines.
Writing FAST: How to Write Anything with Lightning Speed
A systematic approach to writing that generates better quality quickly!
Chock full of ideas, tips, techniques and inspiration, this down-to-earth book is easy to read, and even easier to apply. Let author Jeff Bollow take you through a process that brings your ideas to the page faster, more powerfully and easier than ever before.
Read more here:
7.625 STRATEGIES IN EVERY BEST-SELLER - Revised and Expanded Edition
At this moment, thousands of would-be authors are slaving away on their keyboards, dreaming of literary success. But their efforts won’t count for much. Of all those manuscripts, trade book editors will sign up only a slim fraction.
And of those titles--ones that that editors paid thousands of dollars to contract, print and publicize--an unhealthy percentage never sell enough copies to earn back their advances. Two years later, most will be out of print!
Acquisition Editor Tam Mossman shares seven essentials every book needs to stay in print, and sell!
Read more here:
HOW TO REMEMBER, WRITE AND PUBLISH YOUR LIFE STORY
Angela Hoy's popular online class is now available in book format!
Remember Your Past
Write It and Publish It
in as little as 12 weeks!
Angela Hoy's book will get you started!
Using Angela's MEMORY TRIGGERS, recall memories that have been dormant for years
- Record those memories in chronological order in your memory notebook
- Using the memory notebook as your outline, write your autobiography!
- Also works for biographies and memoirs!
Read more here: