Understanding Your Why

If you are looking to pursue a career as a self-publishing author, it’s important to spend some time considering the foundational matter of your motivation for doing so, or in other words, your ‘why‘.

There are two elements to this which tie together: your life mission in general and your more specific author mission.

In this article, I will discuss my thoughts on these two elements, and then present a few reflections in relation to my own life focus. I hope this will inspire readers and enable them to reflect on my thoughts in relation to their own life and author motivations.

Your Life Mission

A life mission is usually something that isn’t static but that instead evolves with time. Our personal lives can be an important element of our life mission, because if I become a father, or if I get married, or if a relative I am close to passes away, this will change the entire focus of what I am doing in my life, at least for a period of time. At other times, I may embark upon a new area of academic study, or apply for a new job in a sector I haven’t previously been involved with, and so the trajectory of my life can change drastically as time unfolds in its almost inevitably unpredictable way.

As a theist, I believe every human being has been created by God with a unique mission. This mission for some people will be tied more to relationships, such as being a good husband or wife or mother or father, while for others it will be more about their vocational calling or area of work. For the majority of people, their life mission will be a combination of the personal and the vocational.

There are also many people whose life mission does not fit neatly inside of the mainstream, such as the person with a severe disability who is primarily focused on limiting their suffering on a day-to-day basis, or the ascetic monk who is focused almost entirely on spiritual activities such as meditation or voluntary service.

Taking into consideration all of the above, it can be helpful to take some time out to think about what your life mission is from time to time. Doing a brainstorm around this can help you feel more confident about the direction in which your life is moving. You might ask yourself the following questions:

What are my long-term dreams and ambitions?

What responsibilities do I currently have that I enjoy, and what would I like to change?

If my life were a blank canvas and I could do anything I wanted with it, what would I do?

What are the unique giftings and character traits that God has given me?

What are my strengths and weaknesses?

Societies function well when everyone is contributing their unique gifting. In my opinion, there is no less value in the role of a refuse collector than in the role of a business manager. Each individual is contributing to the effective functioning of society, and their responsibilities are God-given and are intended to fulfil a certain aspect of His mission for them personally and for humanity in some way. God would not have created you if he didn’t have a meaningful purpose for your life, so it’s worth spending some time regularly thinking about what your particular life purpose might be. If you do believe in God, you can also pray about this.

Your Author Mission

What unites readers of this website is that we have all felt drawn to pursue writing as at least part of our vocational calling, and this in itself is a tremendous privilege and blessing. To have the ability to write and communicate our thoughts and ideas is something we shouldn’t take for granted; this is our gifting and we must do our best to use it wisely.

Some people may consider their writing work in terms of other responsibilities. For many people, financial considerations are central, because they must be able to afford to pay their bills and mortgage, for instance. For other people, such as those living with financial independence due a to a lottery win or a large inheritance, writing might be more about the thrill of creating stories or writing about a passion such as music or technology.

For the majority of people, their focus as an author is a combination of meeting financial responsibilities that allow them to live comfortably in society, as well as a means by which they can pursue their passions. Whichever kind of author you are, it will benefit you greatly to consider what it is you are actually trying to achieve with your writing. Your overarching mission will affect every aspect of your author journey, from the type of content you create to the way your book (or books) are promoted and marketed. So, what exactly is the purpose of your writing? Who is your intended audience? And what are you hoping to achieve?

Case Study: My Own Example

When I look back to the start of my career, I had no aspirations to be an author at all. I studied Commercial Music at university, and went on to work in the heart of the music industry for quite a few years. Although I had always enjoyed writing and had excelled in this area at school, and although I loved being in the library at university and turning my research into academic essays, I didn’t have any thoughts whatsoever that in the future I might pursue the path of becoming an author.

When I look back on my life now, I am able to see that the experiences God has brought me through have been setting me up for the specific purposes which have subsequently become the focus of my life. While at university, I used to lie in the bath for hours listening to talks by philosophers, and then after my mother passed away following a long illness her own spiritual explorations served as a catalyst which inspired me to return to university and study philosophy and religion.

My mental health journey, which has included several spells in psychiatric hospital, has given me insights into the workings of the human mind that have shaped my philosophical outlook and have allowed me to contribute something unique and (I hope) valuable in the parts of my books which relate to psychology and the workings of the human mind.

At the age of 38 (my age at the time of writing this) I am now able to see my life purpose and my author purpose quite clearly, even to the extent that I can define them in a single sentence:

I aim to use the philosophical and theological insights which God has given me to inspire others to think deeply about life’s big questions with the aim of helping them discover certain truths which will make them feel more inspired, liberated, and happy.

The above description of my author mission isn’t exhaustive or perfect, but in general terms, I know that’s why I have gone through the life journey I have, and this is, I believe, the great blessing that God has given me — to be a philosophical theologian and contribute to the history of thought in a way that will hopefully change lives.

So now, dear reader friend, it’s over to you. Get out a pen and paper and write down everything that you reflected upon in your own life while reading this article. Allow yourself to get excited about your life and author mission, and then make some plans and give it everything you’ve got. I’m with you on the journey!

Have you decided upon a niche for your writing? If not, read this article for inspiration!

Leave a Reply

Copyright ⓒ Steven Colborne 2020 | Tealight Books