If you’re reading this, you might be a writer. And if you are, you’ve most likely written at least a few articles, poems, pieces of stories or scenes of a script at some point in time.
You know you’re a writer. But do you know why?
A common mistake many writers make is declaring proudly, “I want to be a writer.” Okay. So do hundreds of thousands of other people in your time zone alone. So you want to be a writer: that’s a nice start. To succeed in the field, and to achieve your [very broad] dream of becoming a writer, you need to take “I want to be a writer” to the next level.
You need a purpose; a mission. You need a good reason to write—a reason that makes you stand out from all the other “I want to be a writers” in this world. A reason that has a specific audience in mind, who in turn will have a good reason to pick up your work.
Here are three steps you can take to define why you write, who you want to write for, and what you want them to gain by reading your work.
Step 1: Reflect On Past Projects
If you’ve been writing for a long time, this isn’t so hard. If most of the writing you’ve done has been assigned by a teacher or boss, this step is still possible: you just have to read between the lines, to see the underlying messages you tend to pass along in the work you produce.
Whether it’s a paper you wrote for school or even something you wrote about in your journal, reflecting on the topics you’ve written about in the past can help you get a clearer picture of what you’re most passionate about, or an issue you want to work to resolve.
This brings us to step two.
Step 2: List Out What Bothers You
We see tweets all the time about all the frustrating things humans encounter on a daily basis. We know what bothers us, and we often don’t hesitate to hop right onto social media to talk about it.
You can use the power of words, really through any medium, to “speak out” against things that get on your nerves. Start by listing out those things. Even if it’s that person in the quiet car on the train talking on the phone. This will give you a list of things to choose from, to get you thinking on a deeper level about messages you want to communicate.
Let’s say you settle on how 80 percent of the news you read and listen to is negative. It bugs you. You wish the media focused much more of its energy on positive stories, and bringing attention to people who are spending their lives making the world a better place to live.
Now, move on to step three.
Step 3: Declare Your Mission
From the issue you picked out in step two, you can now think of ways you can use writing to send a different message across. Sticking with our previous example, after some thought, you might come up with a declaration similar to this:
“I want to promote the good news of the world and create an outlet for anyone to discuss better ways to make positive differences in society.”
Notice how this mission statement, of sorts, includes what you want to do (promote good news), whom you want to involve (anyone interested in discussing good news) and what you want that audience to gain from this new outlet (sharing ideas).
You could start a blog that focuses on positive news, or write posts on Facebook or Twitter that highlight stories you see on social media. In this case, you’ve turned an issue you care about into a statement of purpose. You’ve defined what you want to write about, and who you hope will read and take something away from it.
Now, go. Figure out your purpose. Write about it. Share your declarations in comments, if you like. Wanting to be a writer is acceptable. Knowing how you want to use your passion for writing to make a difference in the world is exceptional.
Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.