I have a special treat today. One of the first blogging buddies I ever made is here today to talk about living a purpose-driven life.
Danika Dinsmore writes middle-grade fiction. She is published by Hydra House (based in Seattle, Washington). Faerie Tales from the White Forest is her first novel series. The third book in the series, Ondelle of Grioth, will be officially released tomorrow.
Danika is giving away a copy of her new book to one random commenter! See details at the end of this post. Sorry – giveaway is over.
Living a Purpose-Driven Life
I bet many people idealize the “writer’s life” (happily working from home on the next novel while royalties pour into our bank accounts). I know I used to. That was before I was faced with scheduling the open days ahead of me with writing, marketing books, marketing myself, cold-contacting schools & libraries, blogtwitfacebooking, and sending proposals to conferences. With so much in front of me, and not a clue how to organize it all, I often got over-whelmed and even depressed. Especially on unproductive days.
If only I could get my priorities straight, right?
But I had trouble discerning through the daze of “to do” what exactly my priorities should be, especially when it came to social media. I thought maybe if I only had more discipline I would be able to prioritize action items more effectively. I was the QUEEN of To Do Lists, but every action swam in front of me with no clear purpose attached.
I eventually realized that I can’t get my priorities straight if I don’t have my purpose straight first. How can I even make priorities without purpose? I learned that getting my purpose straight practically wrote my priorities for me, and that it was perfectly fine to drop actions that didn’t serve this purpose.
For instance, I began to rethink how I use social media. I took a step back and looked at what my purpose is around social media. If my purpose is to build an audience, then I need to think of actions to build that audience. Should I hang out in online forums? Many forums are great places to exchange information, but not really audience builders. Perhaps I should limit how much time I spend in them.
If my time is really limited, it would serve me better to simply find the one thing I can do that best serves this purpose and focus my energy on that one thing rather than using a scattershot approach and doing several things half-assed.
On a grander scale, I can create purpose for my entire life. My purpose on that scale might be: to be joyful in my creative endeavors or to share my creative expression with others. If that’s the case, perhaps I decide to spend less time on social media in general and more time expressing myself creatively, since that brings more joy into my life. Or, simply become more creative in my expression thru social media.
It doesn’t matter if my purpose is to “sell books” or “have fun.” It’s MY purpose. It’s just that my actions will look different accordingly, and I can prioritize by asking myself if that action serves my purpose. When I started acting from this place of purpose, many items on my “to do” list simply disappeared. I didn’t feel the necessity to do EVERYTHING any longer.
Whenever I go to a conference now, for instance, I create a purpose around it. I might decide my purpose for a particular conference is to have fun. I might decide it’s to have meaningful dialogue. I might decide it’s simply to sit back, listen, and learn. If I decide my purpose is to have fun, I don’t worry about book sales. If my purpose is to have meaningful dialogue, then my priority would be to find new and interesting people and my action would be to strike up a conversation with them. (I’ve done this before and set a goal of having 3 meaningful conversations per day. At the end of the day, it’s usually 2 or 3 times that, but I want to set myself up for a win.)
In the book The One Thing Gary Keller states, “The most productive people start with purpose and use it like a compass. They allow purpose to be the guiding force in determining the priority that drives their actions . . . The prescription for extraordinary results is knowing what matters to you and taking daily doses of actions in alignment with it.”
“Purpose provides the ultimate glue that can help you stick to the path you’ve set.” ~Gary Keller, The One Thing
Note that doing something because you think it will make you happy is different than doing something because it serves your purpose. Ironically, if you do the things that serve your purpose, it will help you find happiness.
(This article was based on a blog post that included a writing exercise about a character’s purpose. If you’d like to try the exercise, you can find it HERE.)
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Danika Dinsmore is an author, performance artist, and educator with an MFA in Writing and Poetics, an advanced certificate in screenwriting, and a diverse creative background. Over the past 20 years she has developed content for the page, stage, screen, and web. She currently works in speculative fiction, with an emphasis on juvenile and young adult literature, and teaches world-building and creative writing at schools, conferences, and festivals across North America.
Find her on her new website danikadinsmore.com or on twitter @danika_dinsmore
Danika is giving away one free copy of her new book, Ondelle of Grioth, to a random commenter. Giveaway is effective until Friday, April 18, 2014 at which time a winner will be selected. (Details: a print copy to anyone in North America and an ebook copy to anyone else worldwide. AND, if the winner has not read books One and Two and would like to read those first, she can send free ebook copies of those as well.) Sweet deal!
GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. THANKS TO ALL WHO COMMENTED. CONGRATULATIONS TO DIANNE GRAY, THE WINNER OF A FREE EBOOK COPY OF ONDELLE OF GRIOTH.