The Value of a Clear Purpose

I have not read the hugely popular book, The Purpose Driven Life, but I’m a huge proponent of having a purpose. That applies on every level from a purpose for life in general to a purpose for writing blog entries.

A clear sense of purpose is the driving force behind any project, and writing your lifestory is no exception. Without a strong purpose, you may sit down and write a story or two, but you are doing little more than scratching an itch in your brain. Once you finish scratching, you’re likely to move on to something else. When you have a purpose, when you see the end result in your mind, you’ll discover awesome staying power. Beyond the motivational value of a clear purpose, it will guide you in deciding which stories to include, what form to use in telling them, and how to organize them for your final package.

There are many reasons to write a lifestory. For example, you may want to
  • share your story with current family and friends

  • document the time you live in for future descendants

  • entertain people

  • explain yourself

  • discover deeper meaning in your life
Most generally, if you start with one purpose in mind, you’ll find that your results spill over into two or three more of those categories.

Your purpose statement will answer questions about why you want to write your lifestory, who you are writing for (this could be an audience of one—yourself), what you want them to learn by reading it, and when they are likely to be reading it.

My own purpose statement for writing my lifestories is multipurpose:
  • To document conditions and times in which I grew up

  • To shed light on some my own and family quirks

  • To entertain readers (some stories, not all)

  • To indulge my love of writing

My anticipated readers are family members of current and future generations, and for some stories, friends both present and future.

Your purpose statement will guide you in decisions about what material to include and what to leave out — or at least when and how to share sensitive material. (More about that in a later post.) It will guide you in your choice of writing form, such as a chronological account, a scrapbook of assorted stories, an insightful memoir, essays about your philosophy of life and how you came to believe what you do, and so forth. It will lead you to your writer’s voice, a topic for later discussion.

Whether you are still thinking about writing your lifestory, or well into a project, I urge you to take some time and come up with a concise statement of purpose. In this statement include both your reasons for writing, however serious, private or frivolous, and the identity of your intended readers (from yourself alone to the world at large). Keep that purpose near at hand, and take a look at it when you’re having trouble staying focused or keeping your words flowing.

If you already have a purpose statement and are willing to share, pop it into a comment. You may encourage others to follow your lead.

Write on,

Sharon Lippincott, aka Ritergal


Anonymous said...

I agree that a purpose statement can give one real direction. I have used this one for 13 years and have built a successful business: "My purpose is to use my business and creative talents to support myself and others as we all experience total abundance."

Recently, I decided I wanted to do more writing, as I feel the business is under control. I am revising my purpose statement as follows: "My purpose is to use my creative and business talents to..."

--a subtle difference, but impactful to me.

Herm said...

I am #5 of 7 children. Only my 50 year old brother is not a grandparent. Out parents are 87 years old. It is a must for me to leave the foundation of our lives in print for the following generations. We haven't just been lucky. I write with that in mind; plus, I ejoy reliving the moments of the stories. I try to put that joy in print so the ideals get embedded in that future reader. The written word can be a cord to tie generations together. If I do it well the audience can exceed my family and seed another.

Herm said...

If you don't get spel chck heree I'm going to haive to wite in the aftrnnon insted of ni the we a.m. ours.

Ritergal said...

Herm, you are so funny, with your comment about "spel chck heree." Who would guess that you are an acclaimed author? (He is, but I'll guard his privacy for now.) Yur humility is one of the things the wurld admires sew much about ewe.

For the rest of the world, notice how easy it was to get the drift from Herm's first comment, typo and all, even the second. Don't be detered from writing for lack of spel chck!