Creating your writer’s vision statement is the best way to keep your life on track.
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If you don’t know what a writer’s vision statement is, GET READY TO BE EDUCATED, SON.
Firstly, it’s the over-arching view of your career and life trajectory. Secondly, it will keep you on track when life gets in the way or when you don’t know what step to take next.
Original photo by Yeshi Kangrang
Admittedly, I haven’t always held onto my writer’s vision statement. Hell, I didn’t have one until fairly recently. But now it’s my guiding principle. It keeps me grounded, and helps me make decisions that will ultimately allow me to create the sort of life I want. And it doesn’t allow me to prioritize non-writing things over writing.This free writing activity will help you create a plan for your life and career. Click To Tweet
The writer’s vision statement was born out of a free writing activity I made my students do. I adapted it from an activity in this Writing for Human Relations textbook created by Dr. Susan Nash who I had the pleasure of teaching with a few semesters ago.
I teach Business Communications, and one of the big assignments this semester is a cover letter. In order to get my students in the right headspace for writing a cover letter, I made them envision the career and life they wanted, list principles they valued most, and define their overall career goal.
Some of them loved it. A lot of them hated it. Mostly, I struggle with getting my students to actually do anything that doesn’t directly show up in the grade book. To say that standardized tests have destroyed the critical thinking skills and the ability of our youth to engage is an understatement. So naturally, I MAKE MY STUDENTS DO THINGS THAT CAN’T BE TAUGHT WITH MULTIPLE CHOICE TESTS OR GRADES SO HELP ME GOD.
But hey, that’s what happens when you get a touchy-feely liberal arts degree-havin’ professor up in the business school.
And before I get into exactly what goes into a writer’s vision statement, I want to stress how much this can help anyone struggling to define what it is they want from life. Any profession can have a vision statement. Hell, any hobby can have a vision statement. Any personality or worldview or activity can have a vision statement.
This exercise exists to help you see where the outcome you want intersects with the values and goals you have. And so, if you feel like you don’t know where you want to be, but you know what principals are important to you, I think this activity is a good starting place.
And while this isn’t a comprehensive way to achieve every goal you set for yourself and get you where you need to be to live your dream life, the first step is ALWAYS defining what you want and what’s important to you.
Once you have that, I think it gets easier to put together the rest of the pieces.
Why do you need a writer’s vision statement?
Choosing an artistic career path means a lot of things that many people outside that career path don’t understand. For instance, you may stay in school longer to study with relevant people in your field. You might choose a day job that doesn’t pay much, but gives you the time off you need to create what you want to create. You may not achieve traditional life milestones at the same rate as the rest of your friends.
All this can make it seem like you’re failing. And, if your friends with traditional careers are assholes, they’ll put pressure on you to jump into the rat race just as hard as they did. But if you have your vision statement, you can see that you’re not really behind at all. In fact, I would argue that you can see how on track you are to achieve what it is you want for you life.
How to create your writer’s vision statement
This is a very simple process. I recommend grabbing a pen and paper. Make sure it’s a pen you like to write with — one that’s smooth and allows you to work quickly. And get some paper that allows you to write quickly and comfortably. If you don’t want the spiral of a notebook in your way, get something else. This is mostly a free writing exercise, and you’ll refine it all over time. That means you gotta get your thoughts out on paper fast, and do the editing later. So pick tools that allow you to do that.
Then, all you need to do is sit down in a quiet place. Take a moment to get your headspace right. There’s really no point in doing this with a bad attitude. (There’s really no point in doing anything with a bad attitude, honestly.)
All you need to do is free write on each of these elements until you think you’ve gotten out everything you have to say on each topic. I don’t recommend setting a timer, because you want to make sure you’ve gotten all your brain and all your heart out on paper. Simply start with the first one, and write until you’re done. Then, move on to the next one.
- Vision: The vision is the overall view you have for your life. This includes your career, family, location, money, and lifestyle. To write about this, think about everything you want out of life. Do you want to publish bestsellers, or do you just want to publish? Do you want to write quietly in the woods, or do you want to be one of those NYC writers? Are you looking to start a family too? How does the family fit in with everything? How much money do you want to have? What sort of house will you live in? Do you want to travel? Will you have a day job in addition to your writing? Explore all of these topics until you’ve created a vision for the person you will be.
- Core Values: What principles are important to you? These could be as codified as moral or religious standards. Or, they could be something a bit more nebulous. For example, my core values include creativity, flexibility, freedom, and choice, amongst others. For some, family and community may play large roles in their lives, and those may be some of your core values. Whatever you choose, make sure you also write out a definition for each core value so it’s clear what that particular principle means in the context of your life.
- Mission/Purpose: This is the goal statement for your existence. It should encapsulate everything you want to achieve, and the principles you will uphold to get there.
And that’s the first step to creating your writer’s vision statement. Once you’ve completed the free write, then all that you have left to do is refine it. So, let it sit for a bit, and then come back and do some editing.
Once you’ve refined it, you’ll see that you have clear statements about who you are as a writer, and a defined path for your life. And most importantly, you’ll have something tangible to undergird your argument when you remind yourself why you do what you do.
Then, while you’ll still doubt yourself, at least you will see a path. And when others question your life and career choices, it won’t matter, because you’ll understand them.How to Create Your Writer's Vision Statement Click To Tweet
Have you ever created a writer’s vision statement? What else would you include?
This is great!
Thanks, Alice! I used it to remind myself of where I want to be someday.
Thanks for this prod. I’ve been a writer for years, but have never made a writer’s vision statement – and now I know why I need one!
Thanks for reading, Shirley! And having the vision statement has definitely kept me on track when it comes to big career choices.
Hi Marisa, I’m in the process of publishing my first book ‘Finding Yourself’ and your Mission Statement for writers caught my eye. I have a passion for helping abused women, but the writing industry is all new to me. Thank you for your post.