Writing Commitment Statement

reading-postersmall.jpg

Poster for a reading held at a fantastic independent bookstore, Santoro’s, in Seattle in 2005. Artwork, oil bars on brown paper, by Caroline Allen. www.carolineallen.com

When coaching writers, I begin by asking new clients to create a Writing Commitment Statement. In it, they should address their commitment to the process, specifically:

— How many days will they write a week?
— How many hours each day?
— What project will they work on for the next six months? Year? Two years?
— What are some of obstacles in the way of the writing process they want to address?
— What other support do they want to look for to help them in the process? Writer’s group? Writer friend? Babysitters?
— What is their writing space like, and how can they improve it for ease of writing?
— What is their five-year plan?

I ask them to write all of this down, then send the commitment statement to me to be witnessed. I tell them: It’s a living document and will change as you change; it will need to be rewritten as you write and find your flow. I ask: Do you find after one month that your writing times have changed during the week? I tell them: revise your commitment statement, and send it back to me so that I might witness it again. I believe the document becomes an almost inspirational/spiritual force that is a sacred contract. I believe it can have an energy that is like a wind at our backs, that helps us move forward into our authentic path as writer.

You can download for FREE a Commitment Statement template on my website: http://www.artofstorytellingonline.com/. Go to FREE RESOURCES and login to find your free download.

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3 thoughts on “Writing Commitment Statement

  1. It’s important to emphasize how DIFFICULT writing is–just the physical toll it takes to type in 100,000 words, never mind spending the next three years editing that effort. There are too many wannabes proliferating (thanks to e-books and iUniverse), folks who believe that old canard that “everyone has a novel in them”. Rubbish! What other profession has to put up with the pretensions of these idiots? If I fixed a slat on my fence, would I walk into a roomful of carpenters and brag about my accomplishments? If I unclog a drain with a plunger am I a plumber? Of course not…and it’s just as ridiculous to claim the honorific of “writer” if all you do is write journal entires about how lonely you are or write a poem about the passing of a beloved pet. Have some respect for past Masters, their utter devotion to their art…

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  2. While I agree that writing is hard work, that you must learn the business, hone your craft, hone your professionalism… The rest of Cliff’s post is to be pitied.

    First of all, an e-published author, with an established, royalty-paying press, IS published. They aren’t “wanna be’s.” They learn to write, to self-edit, to submit, to edit, to market… Their submissions are weighted for quality and how well they fit the line submitted to. (Established indie/e-publishers take between 100 and 200 of all submissions they receive, and I can provide a breakdown of the fact that it’s a reasonable number, even in NY.) The books are edited, and though there are some fly-by-nights and poorly-edited books in indie/e, the same can be said of NY. The authors attend conventions. They talk to agents and editors. They enter contests. They often win them. They sit on panels at conventions.

    Are they all professionals? Of course not. Anyone claiming that every NY-published author is a professional is deluded, as well. Not every author, in any circle, is going to be “professional,” in the strictest sense of the word.

    In Dee Power’s yearly questionnaire of agents and NY editors, the consensus was that e-publishing credits with such an established house IS a valid publishing credit.

    On the other hand, they agree with Cliff that, barring the self, subsidy or vanity-published book that hits the sales jackpot, a self/subsidy/vanity credit is not on their scopes.

    Many of these authors are just as devoted to their art as the past masters Cliff seems to feel only NY authors are allowed to speak the names of.

    Cliff cannot even claim that NY authors always make more money than e-published authors. There are plenty of indie/e authors who are able to give up the day job, some able to support themselves on their earnings. In some genres (mainly romance, erotic, SF and fantasy), these authors are capable of making more than a NY mid-list author, and often do with the right book and the right marketing. And, don’t even go there with “you don’t have to in NY,” because NY authors market, too.

    What makes someone choose indie/e instead of NY? A ton of reasons. Each side has it’s ups and downs. Indie/e is more responsive to market changes. Indie/e takes chances on books the NY money men won’t let NY publishers take. NY, in fact, uses indie/e as a springboard for adopting new lines and (occasionally) new authors. Indie/e employs less waste than the NY system of publishing, has faster response times on submissions, takes less money to submit to (since most, but not all, are taking electronic submissions), offers a higher percentage per book to authors, doesn’t pigeonhole an author into a single genre or two, will consider reprints to keep a back list alive and selling at a REASONABLE price to fans, old and new… In short, there are a lot of reasons to either choose indie/e or to choose both NY and indie/e as a working team.

    And, many authors of note do, working both fields much as some actors work in both Hollywood and indie films. Former NY Times bestsellers, like Robert Adams (may he rest softly) and Katherine Sutcliffe have taken their back lists to indie/e. Others, like Piers Anthony, keep some work in NY (in his case, Xanthe) and take all their new offerings to indie/e (in his case again, the newest Incarnations of Immortality series, among other books, is in indie/e). Still others, like NY Times bestsellers Kate Douglas and Angela Knight, choose to keep books in indie/e, when they make the move the other direction (from indie/e to NY contracts).

    Funny story time. When Kate Douglas signed with NY, they wanted her to take her e-books off sale. Not the books they were signing…other books. She refused. When her agent asked her why, she produced a few royalty statements, and the agent told the NY editor she was keeping the indie/e books. It wasn’t even a question that she would.

    Now add to this mix the fact that NY publishers are heading back into e-books. If there was no merit in the format…if there was no money to be made there, they wouldn’t be.

    I might also note that some NY publishers are adopting POD (PRINT ON DEMAND as opposed to offset printing…not the self/subsidy/vanity perversion of the term that some uneducated journalists have adopted as a definition…no offense to Carrie, since I know she was a journalist…these journalists give the entire breed a black eye)… Back to the subject. Some NY publishers have adopted POD to keep their back list alive and in print. Why? Because it means not warehousing and stripping books. It’s a change that has been long coming and is more than overdue.

    BTW…when is someone a writer? Try reading my blog post on the matter at http://brennalyonsden.blogspot.com/2007/09/when-are-you.html Anyone who feels that someone calling himself/herself a “writer” (someone that is not a professional, published author) is somehow harmful to those who are professional, published authors is very insecure in his/her standing as an author.

    Brenna Lyons

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  3. I enjoy your site and I have bookmarked it, Kind Regards

    Bernice Johanson

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