In my previous posting, I mentioned how a Mission Statement was my impetus for this series on Managing Your Muse and we will get to that—I promise, but not today. Today, let’s talk about creating your Vision Statement.
In every leadership class I’ve attended and every business book I’ve read which was published after 1990, creating a Vision Statement was the first priority, and for good reason. A Vision Statement succinctly states why you’re doing what you’re doing and focuses you on your primary goal.
An author’s vision statement encompasses an entire writing career, not just the next book. Think big picture and long-term. What do you want as a writer? What is your dream?
By clarifying what you really want, it makes decision making easier on almost every front, and believe me, you will have more decisions to make while writing than you can imagine.
Should I use a pen name? How will I market my work? What type of writers’ or critique groups should I join? Which genre will I write? What will my covers look like? Should I self-publish or get an agent? Who is my target reader? Just to give a few examples.
Your vision statement will go a long way in helping to answer most of these. Take a few moments to think about why you want to write. What do you want from a writing career? Do you even want a career, or is your writing only going to be a hobby?
There is no wrong vision statement because it’s based on your very personal goals. This isn’t something you have to share or publish, it’s simply a tool to help you focus on what you want to accomplish.
So what makes a good vision statement?
Keep it short, make it memorable, and make it inspire you.
Here are a few corporate vision statements examples to give you an idea of how far-reaching and all-encompassing yours can be.
Habitat for Humanity: A world where everyone has a place to live.
Smithsonian: Shaping the future by preserving our heritage, discovering new knowledge, and sharing our resources with the world.
Microsoft: A personal computer in every home and office running Microsoft software.
Avon: To be the company that best understands and satisfies the product, service, and self-fulfillment needs of women.
Google: Organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
Anheuser-Busch: Be the world’s beer company. Through all of our products, services and relationships, we will add to life’s enjoyment.
Sears: To be the preferred and most trusted resource for the products and services that enhance hone and family life.
Apple: We believe that we are on the face of the earth to make great products and that’s not changing. We are constantly focusing on innovating. We believe in the simple not the complex. We believe that we need to own and control the primary technologies behind the products that we make, and participate only in the markets where we can make a significant contribution. We believe in saying no to thousands of projects, so that we can really focus on the few that are truly important and meaningful to us. We believe in deep collaboration and cross-pollination of our groups, which allow us to innovate in a way that others cannot. And frankly, we don’t settle for anything less than excellence in every group in the company, and we have the self-honesty to admit when we’re wrong and the courage to change.
Walt Disney: To make people happy.
As you can see with the Apple example, not all vision statements are short but, you have to admit, each of these would help to inspire both employees and customers and, if their leaders adhere to their ideals, would be useful in making both long and short-term decisions.
So what would a writer’s vision statement look like? Unlike corporate statements, most artists prefer to keep their goals private. However, I was able to tap a few of my talented author friends for their vision statements:
Tia Dani: When you read a Tia Dani book…prepare to be whisked away into another world of mystical, magical romance. Places where your will laugh, maybe cry, and when you’ve read the final page, our characters will still live on in your heart.
Kris Tualla: To make Norway the new Scottland!
Just to be fair, I’m happy to share my own humble goal with you.
Anna Questerly: To become an award-winning, best-selling, international author by writing stories into which readers can truly escape.
Yes, I wrote this before I typed the first word of The Minstrel’s Tale. And yes, it’s shamelessly ambitious. But it is my dream. The real questions are has it helped me become a writer? And if so, how?
The answer is a resounding yes, from the selection of my pen name (I wanted premium placement on bookshelves, settled snugly between Christopher Paolini and J.K. Rowling), to working up the nerve to enter a writing contest (The Minstrel’s Tale took first place in a novel contest on Authorstand.com—award-winning: check!), to limiting the genres I write to historical and fantasy (pure escapism), to my current project of having my books translated (international—working on it), to motivating me to get my butt-in-chair to write and then rewrite my books, making certain each book was my highest quality writing (in the belief that to one day be a best-selling author it’s vital to give my best efforts).
So many more of my decisions were based on my vision statement, I couldn’t possibly list them all. Each choice is weighed against my vision statement and whether it will move me closer to my goal. My statement continues to inspire me, motivate me, and keep me focused on my dream. Granted, I still have a long way to go, but I’m loving the journey.
Whether your dream is as grandiose or more modest, a vision statement can help you get closer to it. There is good reason why this is taught in every business school in America—it works.
What’s your vision?