Use your journal to develop the plan for your storytelling business, beginning with your vision statement.
What is vision? It is allowing myself to perceive with my inner eye that which my inner being pours into my conscious awareness about my future.
What is a vision statement? It’s a statement which articulates the entrepreneur’s dream. It speaks of the entrepreneur’s aspirations for the future of her enterprise, and provides strategic direction for attaining those aspirations. William Darbi, who conducted a study on the impact of mission and vision statements on the attitudes of employees of a tertiary institution in Ghana, West Africa, described the characteristics of a vision statement. He said the vision statement includes the entrepreneur’s core values, that is, those enduring principles, ideologies and world views she holds in high esteem. There is a school of thought which states that even if market conditions should change, the entrepreneur’s core values should remain the same, and that if the entrepreneur’s core values no longer seem relevant in a particular market, the entrepreneur should seek to enter another market rather than change her core values. Another characteristic of the vision statement, said Darbi, is that it should be ambitious and challenging, yet workable enough to evoke the entrepreneur’s ingenuity in the process of its realization.
Why should you create a vision statement? There are people who write, and there are writers. What’s the difference between them, you may ask. Well, people who write, probably “have a book in them,” as they say. Writers, on the other hand, have many books in them. True writers write all the time, and even as they labor to produce their first work, they’re quietly conceptualizing its encore. I’ve worked with many authors, helping them develop their drafts into publishable manuscripts, and I’ve discovered this common trait among those of my clients who consider themselves true writers (and I respect them enough to believe they know what they’re talking about).
Not only do they have several stories simultaneously streaming in their minds, but those who’re writing down those stories for the first time tend to be protective of them. I’ve usually had to get to the point where we were in a relationship of trust before they shared their whole story with me, and that’s when I discovered they’ve got sequels, prequels, and sometimes even translations of the story into other genres.
For example, one of my clients who recently completed a novel – not her first, but the first she will publish – also wrote a companion non-fiction book. The fictional novel was a true story which focused on a young mother’s struggle against abuse of power by employees of a state agency. In addition to this intense page turner, the storyteller had written a rough draft of a non-fiction companion book with facts and stats which broke down the way the abuse worked in real life, and she had also begun an outline of the sequel to the novel. I see this tendency in my clients all the time, and I’ve come to understand that true storytellers are ambitious like this. I have found that those who are new to the business of storytelling tend to be uncertain about how to pursue their ambitious goals, and appear to hold back, preferring, it seems, to wait and see how the first product works out before contemplating future projects.
A better approach, however, is to set out a strategic plan for all the products, including a timeline for their production. A vision statement captures the big picture of the storyteller’s strategy for her complete works as far into the future as she can see, and situates the strategy within the overarching philosophy which frames her work.
Here is an example of a vision statement created by the Givens Foundation for African American Literature (http://givens.org/), a company specializing in the art and craft of storytelling.
“We envision a world where all people see themselves reflected in the creation and enjoyment of culture, and where the Black experience and communities of color are central to the sharing of story in all its forms. Our core values are that Black creativity is central to contemporary culture, that Black voices and stories are essential, and that culturally responsive engagement will lead to equality.”
How to craft your vision statement. In your journal, write down the answers to the following questions. Take some time to be introspective, and reach deep for your most authentic responses.
- What morals, beliefs or standards do you hold?
- How do they shape the way you create stories or narratives?
- How will they affect the way you operate as an entrepreneur?
- How many stories do you want to publish in the next five years?
- What genre(s) will you work in?
- To what size do you wish to grow your enterprise?
- What level of influence, status, prestige or power do you wish to accrue from your work?
Now write your own vision statement, drawing upon what you wrote in your journal.