How Writers Can Fulfill Their Mission — Today

Carol Tice

As a writer, how do you know if you’ve really made it?

Here’s an idea: You can say you’ve done it if you have fulfilled your mission.

This thought was put in front of me by literary agent  Donald Maass, one of the presenters at Surrey International Writers Conference, which I attended recently.

This reminded me that one big problem with being a writer is that it’s so easy to get off track.

There are so many things we could spend our time writing.

If you’re like me, you spend a lot of time writing for clients, to pay the bills. I’ve gotten to help a lot of small business owners along the way, and even expose a few wrongdoings. Which all feels good.

Clients call and want to hire you, and you say ‘yes.’ Then you look up, and it’s five years later, and you wonder where you’re headed.

I enjoy the challenge in writing for clients, but is it truly my mission as a writer? Not so sure.

More recently, I’ve been getting to help freelance writers learn how to earn more. I’ve taken a stand against writer exploitation and low pay by becoming a paying market myself. Which all feels terrific.

I feel like I’ve left a real legacy with all the tips I’ve given, and all the thank-you notes I’ve gotten from writers.

But I’m not sure that’s all there is to it.

Asking the hard questions

Have I truly lived up to all of my writing potential?

Have I done all I can with my gift? Probably not.

Maass asked it like this:

“What do you NEED to write? Is there something important you want to tell everyone?

What will you write that will change the world?

Write it.”

I have to admit I was a little flummoxed.

I like to think of myself as having a good handle on my goals and direction as a writer.

I’m well-organized and all. I get a lot done.

But I don’t really know the answer to this.

Is there more important stuff I should focus on writing in 2013? Maybe so.

There is this young-adult novel concept I’ve been talking about with my daughter, who loves it and wants to illustrate it. Maybe it’s time to tear up my playbook and learn more about novel construction, and somehow find the time to write that.

And an idea I’m kicking around in my head about creating a blog that would promote world peace. Now there’s something important to write about, where you could really leave a legacy.

How can you fulfill your mission?

Take that important thing you need to write, Maass said, and write a bit on it every day.

Get it on your agenda, and get it done. Even if you have to do it a little at a time, inbetween kids and life and paying bills and everything else.

Because life is short. And we never know how short it might be.

It’s another way to look at success. Not a best-seller, necessarily, or a top blog.

Just taking a little time today, to write that thing you know you were put here to write. That’s victory.

What’s your mission as a writer? Leave us a comment and share it.

42 Comments

  1. Stefanie

    I’m so glad I stumbled upon this post! I just came to the realization that I really need to reevaluate my goals when I almost applied to a writing position (“with the possibility of compensation”) for a website with the same content I am trying to write on my own blog (a long-time dream but barely launched)! I’ve just started earning some money through writing and I have a full-time job so I’m quickly I’m realizing that if I don’t stay focused on my goals as a writer, I will inevitably get sucked into things that totally have nothing to do with my mission, just for the chance to earn a few bucks.
    I suppose it depends on one’s goal at the moment: to make a living writing at a freelancer may be someone’s goal; to to be fulfilled by one’s writing (but not making much with it) could be another’s. Of course, the ultimate goal for most is the third option of making a living writing what you love.
    Thanks for helping me skip that first step of writing what I don’t find fulfilling (I can do that type of work at my full-time job!) and reminding me that at least for now my personal goal isn’t just to write and make money, but to write for my mission and hope that one day I get the luxury of making a living writing what has meaning to me.

    • Carol Tice

      Sure thing — you can especially skip it if it only has the “possibility” of compensation. If you already have an income from your day job, you’re right — focus on portfolio building and doing quality work. Free blog posts you can write on your own blog, unless they’re for VERY high-profile, high-traffic sites that give you valuable exposure (and a link back to your own blog).

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