Thursday, January 5, 2012

Writer's Mission Statement 3.0

It's that time of year again.

Much has changed in the publishing world since my Writer's Mission Statement 2.0 last year, but my Mission Statement is surprisingly flexible in meeting those changes.*

Mission Statement 2.0 (and 3.0)
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 novel length works that reaches a large number of young readers, to provide the greatest impact on young lives. 

*A good mission statement won't change year-to-year, because it is a reflection of your core values. However, it can be used to guide your short-term decision making, and in that, I am finding it useful again this year.


Why I Write
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.


This statement is a great distillation of why I wrote Open Minds, as well as pretty much every novel I've started (and finished) - I love to make my readers think. Over the last year, I've embraced my geeky tech side, folding it more completely into my writing. This was an important evolution for me as a writer and as a human being (I think we always function best when we are integrated wholes, rather than splintered pieces), but as I look back on my Mission Statement, it was there all along: leverage my background in science, engineering... 

Goal for 2012: Complete the Mindjack Trilogy and plan my next novel(s) while keeping this goal in the center of where I go with my stories and my writing career.

Continuing To Push My Craft
To have every story be an improvement in craft. 

This really strikes home as I write Closed Hearts, the sequel to Open Minds. It is not enough for me to simply write the next book in the series. The fear of sequel-itis (that the second book is never as good as the first) nips at my heels. But even more important, I want to make sure I'm pushing my craft forward with every book, even within a trilogy. I've started early, reading intensely over Christmas Break and studying the second books in beloved series. I'm also brushing up on the craft with James Scott Bell's The Art of War for Writers,  Margie Lawson's seminar Empowering Character's Emotions, and Noah Lukeman's A Dash of Style

Goal for 2012: Have the second book be better than the first. Have the third book be a satisfying finish for my readers. Take a daring leap with the next series.

Writing Like I'm On Fire
To create a body of novel length works that reaches a large number of young readers, to provide the greatest impact on young lives. 

I'm living this, as people are reading my work in larger numbers every day, leaving reviews and having such a wonderful response to the book. The effect of this is to spur me to write more, with a furious desire to have my work out there and an equally strong need to have it be the best craft and story I'm capable of producing (see above). There is enormous pressure on self-published writers to produce work quickly, a striking difference with the traditional publishing world, where work is carefully measured in its release, and writers are sometimes barred from even submitting their work to publishers on too tight a schedule (much less releasing it). Having a foot in both worlds, this is one of the differences that can be dizzying. I recently commented in an interview that I planned to release Closed Hearts in May 2012, but that I wouldn't release it until it was ready. A writer friend said she respected that, and I appreciated (greatly!) her support. Speed isn't the most important thing - the story is. Still, I have an ambitious (but reasonable, if I am focused) schedule for 2012. I've already met the first milestone (finish the rough draft of Closed Hearts by Christmas) which gives me courage to press on.

Goal for 2012: Write two, possibly three books in 2012.

I know, crazy, right?

Which brings me to the last one ...

Keeping Connected
To be a leader and member of a supportive writing community, through blogs, critiques, and social networking. 

This one is so tremendously important, and yet needs to be trimmed and tailored to my ferocious need for writing productivity this year. It tears at me, because being connected is such an important part of a successful writing career: the connections I make with writers, readers, bloggers are critically important for critiques, marketing, support, keeping on top of the industry, taking advantage of opportunities as they come ... the list is endless. But to continue to stay connected, I have to do it at a sustainable pace.

Goal for 2012:  Cut back on blogging to once or twice a week. So, instead of a Monday-Wednesday-Friday schedule, I'll be posting Mondays and maybe Thursdays (like today) - or possibly other days as the mood or need strikes. Paring back the frequency also means a commitment to having those blog posts be the most meaningful ones for my readers (see the Best of 2011 post for the ones that have resonated in the past).

Hopefully, less will be more in this case. 

I know myself well enough to know that the challenge here will be to NOT post more frequently; to make sure that I'm focused and disciplined with my writing time; to hit the self-imposed deadlines that will allow me to produce fiction that people will want to read without losing the connection to the writers and friends that make it all worthwhile.

It will be a challenge, but a tremendously exciting one! I can't wait for 2012 to unfold.

Have you written a Writer's Mission Statement yet?

*****************
WINNER of Amanda Hocking's novel SWITCHED ... Katherine Dodgers! Thanks to everyone who entered and to St. Martin's press for offering up a copy of SWITCHED!

14 comments:

  1. I really liked A Dash of Style.

    And I feel that my mission statement ("Maybe I should write some stuff") needs some fleshing out. I'm sure Version 2.0 will rock. ("More stuff!")

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  2. Thanks for posting this, Sue, as this is something I haven't yet thought of, let alone created, and you breaking yours down offers simple how-to advice!

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  3. Um,WOWEE, never though about it like that. A mission statement...drifts off to dream it up.

    THX for this and good luck!

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  4. Okay, I guess I need to do some serious reflecting. Thanks for this brilliant post--it was eye-opening. :-)

    And Random.org is NOT my friend anymore. LOL.

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  5. Yours is really detailed!
    Missed you yesterday for the IWSG posting. Next one is February 1.

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  6. *Sigh* Now I feel like I should write myself a mission statement. This was the kick in the butt I needed!

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  7. I love the part about continuing to push your craft. That's what I do all the time. Just ask my overcrowded craft bookshelf. :)

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  8. Mission statement, wow. I'm trying to juggle writing, blogging, hanging out with my son while he's out of college on break, and gearing up for part time college teaching. Yulp. Mission statement? Well, I have devoted two solid days to publicity on my new YA novel.

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  9. I know, right? It seems I can barely find time to go to the bathroom, much less do planning like this. But it’s important to my personal sanity to have this kind of guiding light to steer by, so I’m glad I did it. But you have to do what works for you! 
    Thanks for stopping by!

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  10. Mission statement... Hm that's easy. For once, finish what you start. Be it a book you're writing, goal you're headed for, or piece of cake you cut, finish it.

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  11. Love to see your goals of weaving your life passions into your writing. Synergy is a worthy goal.

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  12. I write resolutions myself, and included mine (in very brief form)on my Rainforest Writing blog.

    Whether the goals we have at the beginning of a new year are called resolutions, goals or mission statements - the purpose is the same: we want to achieve certain benchmarks. Whether we stick with those goals has nothing to do with what they are called, but rather with the perseverance of the person.

    I'm a planner, I like having a guidemap, from which I can divert if I need to.

    Great goals Susan, a lot of bloggers have cut back or taken sabbaticals. Seems to be the trend.

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  13. zerg. You are so brilliant with a writer's mission statement! I think I'm going to steal yours... LOL! Just kidding, but it's really good. And very much what I've got in my head for what I want to do. Now just to decide which paths are working and which aren't...

    Here's to a successful, goal-meeting 2012! For all of us~ :o) <3

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  14. I've read where so many writers/bloggers are cutting back on blogging. I'm one of them, for a lot of reasons. I'm doing Wednesdays as L'Aussie Writing (Denise Covey) advised most people blog on Wednesdays and Thursdays. How else are we going to get any writing done?! But we also need to keep in contact with others so they'll read what we write!! I think it would also be good to get into forums. I just haven't looked into this in any depth.

    Your Why I Write statement is excellent. It's so important to have "moral" books for young readers. :o)
    Ann Best, Author of In the Mirror & Other Memoirs

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Erudite comments from thoughtful readers