How to Succeed as an Author: Know Your Purpose

Posted on August 23, 2013



As a writer, it makes a lot of sense to sit down and consider why you are writing. Why do you write in general, and why are you writing the particular piece you’re working on now? The two answers will probably be similar, though of course, you’ll also have different goals for every different piece you write. Every blog, every story, every journal entry has a different message. Whether you’re writing something already or thinking about starting, here are some questions to ask yourself in order to ensure you meet your goals.

What do you want readers to learn? Are you teaching your readers something? If so, what do they need to know and what do you want them to have learned when they finish your book? Make a checklist if you need to so you can keep track of your progress as you write and make sure you don’t leave anything out.

What do you want readers to feel? This is more important than you might first guess. Feelings are vital to the success or downfall of books. If readers feel excited or scared as they read a thriller, they are being sufficiently entertained and will continue to flip through the pages till long after midnight. If they feel outraged or disgusted by a problem or wrong that you are bringing to light in your book, then they are more likely to take action when you ask them to. Think of the emotions you feel when you consider your book—they’re probably feelings you want your readers to experience as well. Jot these down so you have black and white goals and tailor your writing to meet them as best as you are able. These are also great notes to have as you receive feedback for your work. If readers and editors are telling you they feel the emotions you’ve listed, you know you’re doing well.

Where do you want your book to go? Consider who you want to be reading your book. Do you visualize it on bookstores all over the world? In e-book form being shared to millions? Do you want it to be passed along from friend to friend and displayed on coffee tables? This will determine the format of your book—print or e-book or both—and thus how you will go about organizing, designing, and publishing your work. Do you see your fictional work becoming a movie, or your nonfiction book a gem of knowledge that readers can continually refer back to? If you want your book to stand the test of time, you have to focus on an “ageless” topic that will never become irrelevant. Study great literature, fiction and nonfiction alike, and determine what makes them remain classics throughout the years. Finally, are you writing a series, or is your book a standalone piece? How you approach your work will change greatly if you want your readers to pick up another book concerning your characters or subject. You’ll want to leave them craving more.

What do you feel passionate about? A writer may insist that he is not letting his personal views or beliefs leak into a fiction or nonfiction work dedicated to separate subject material, but the fact is, your passions and beliefs will come out. The messages or opinions may be subtle but not invisible.

Why not use this to your advantage? Be aware of the ideas you are conveying and how you feel about them. If you’re passionately for or against a cause, your enthusiasm may be contagious. Why mask it? If you find a message threading its way through your fictional piece, realize that all books have morals in the end; some are just more obvious than others. If you are afraid of having a “preachy” voice or narrative, write down the personal beliefs or thoughts you fear might get in the way or be too deeply rooted inside you to ignore so you’re fully aware of them. Don’t try to fool yourself by saying that you’re neutral. Your readers don’t expect it and your attempts to conceal your beliefs will be counterproductive. Embrace them and find the best way to incorporate them in your piece without overdoing it.

Whenever you’re about to undertake a writing project, stop and ask yourself what your purpose is. If you can’t answer that in a few, concise sentences, then you need to do some serious brainstorming. Ask yourself these questions until you know the answers. Be sure your vision and goals are clear so you can meet them.

 Rachel Schade, Writer, Editor, and Publishing Coordinator, Asta Publications

Asta Publications has a long history of helping writers tell their stories and get published. Since 2004, Asta Publications has helped hundreds of authors bring their book concepts to life and we are ready to help you too! Our dedication to our authors is unmatched. We deliver first-class products and services that are accurate, high quality, and exceed our authors’ expectations.

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