I’ve always thought of myself as a very happy writer. I used to put it down purely to the fact that I was a dreamer first, and therefore completely used to coming and going across the threshold of consciousness, which meant I never experienced any kind of writing angst about getting blocked or running out of ideas.
But at the recent Scattered Authors conference in Peterborough, my friend and fellow-writer Penny Dolan recommended a book she thought I might like, called ‘Coach yourself to writing success,’ by Bekki Hill, and it has extended my thinking.
Penny was right – I love this kind of book. I enjoy doing practical exercises that help me to arrive at different ways of looking at things. I’m a great fan of life coaching too, having had some life-changing sessions with astrological life coach, Pat Neill, a few years ago and more recently a brilliant group session with a writing coach at a Lapidus networking day.
What has become clearer for me through reading this book is that another reason I’m very happy in my writing is that my goals are perfectly attuned to my core values.
We commonly measure writing success in terms of sales and celebrity, but I have never felt any of that is important; I haven’t felt jealous, anxious or disheartened about having less of a public profile than many of my writing friends.
My core values, it turns out, are in order of importance:
- Beauty/ creativity. I’ve blogged about the elegant harmonies of structure that please me in my work on the children’s blog, girlsheartbooks http://girlsheartbooks.com/2012/12/18/does-this-make-me-weird/
- Nature/health. I love the writing life because it means I can live somewhere remote and go walking in nature every day
- Loving/caring/sociability. I enjoy the connection with readers, for example here on my blog, although it’s medium-profile and profit-free. One of my main drives in writing for children is to suggest ideas which might help them create positive experiences and deal with difficult ones
- Originality/self-expression. The parable of the talents has always informed my life, and it feels very important to me that we explore, uncover and develop our God-given gifts, whatever they might be
- Spirituality/solitariness. This was the surprising one, because I’d have thought it would rank higher, but when I did the next exercise, expanding upon these core values, I discovered that all of the first four boil down to ways of celebrating the divine, in myself, the world and other people
You are more likely to achieve your writing goals if they fit with your core values in life. Should you manage to achieve goals that don’t, your success is less likely to make you feel happy.
That is not to say you are limited forever to where you are today, because core values can change and evolve. Like you yourself, they are a work-in-progress.
But for this moment and this step, understanding how your current writing goals relate to what your soul wants is empowering and may be a revelation. Like Penny, I can totally recommend this book.
Have you ever thought about how well your writing goals tie in with your core values?
17 thoughts on “What kind of writer do you want to be?”
Thank you, Jenny. I have ordered the book! Writing unhappiness is a such a powerful negative force, and I’m very grateful that you are addressing it.
Hi Moira – I think you’ll enjoy it. Let me know!
what a great post – lots to reflect on
Thank you, Vicky – your feedback is much appreciated 🙂
I love you values, and me too re the ‘celebrity/writer presence’ thing. It scares the heck out of me, to be honest. Being happy with what you’re writing and who you are as a writer, and carrying your values through into your writing are right at the top for me. Lovely post as always.
Thank you, Abi 🙂 When I was new to it all, I used to suspect there was something wrong with me, that I didn’t yearn to do big festivals or feel impressed by prizes… then I got quite cross and resentful that writers should have to worry about such things… and then I kicked my heels and left all that behind!
Since I have somewhat of a twisted mind, all sorts of strange little tales sprout from the depths of my psyche. So, not even I often know what I’ll end up writing about! I like to surprise myself as much as I do others.
That’s what I love about writing too, the element of surprise! Which is why my least favourite thing is trying to write a synopsis for a book proposal before I’ve written the book.
Thank you, Jenny, for reminding me to take time to reflect on the many things that give me joy in my writing that are unrelated to sales figures.
Hi Jane – sometimes I need a reminder that I have to do enough promotions etc to sell enough books to support my lifestyle. I guess that even if our current goals and values are well matched, we still need to find balance 🙂
I really enjoyed this post and downloaded the Kindle version right away after reading the preview on Amazon. Lots to work on here both personal and creative. Thank you for bringing it to my attention.
Both personal and creative – reminds me of something an accountant once told me about writers – ‘the life is the art’!
I think this must be why you’re so calm, Jenny! You’re lucky to have found that sense of peace, though, because I don’t think it’s very common. Funny how “getting published” once seemed to be the end of the rainbow…
Ah yes, I remember it well! But it turned out getting published was just the beginning…
I love this book Jenny and it was through doing the exercises that I realised why writing magazine articles wasn’t fulfilling me. Basically my core values were becoming increasingly out of sync with what I wanted to achieve with my writing. Your post is very relevant to any occupation. If we are working at a job that goes against what we believe or isn’t fulfilling in some way then we need to find a job that meets our needs and supports our values.
I’m so glad you’re enjoying it, Carolyn. I think it’s important to review things from time to time, as we achieve our goals and I love the life-coaching approach.