Values and virtues for writers

Leaving aside any financial motivation, why do you write? And how can your work promote fulfilment and self-development for yourself and your readers? This post is about personal values and virtues  – those abstract qualities which according to your own individual outlook on life are important and worthwhile, and can be expressed through your writing and other activities.

Many of the sites about values and virtues which can be found online name 100 or more different items. Here are some examples of the qualities relevant to writers.

Achievement: The satisfaction of completing a piece of work and having something tangible to show for your efforts.

Adventure and Challenge: Exploring new subject-matter, techniques, publishing avenues; you may be happier travelling to new places to gather material than sitting at your desk.

Beauty: Creating work which is aesthetically pleasing, whether in the elegance of its wording or the appearance of the printed format.

Contribution and Service: Making the world a better place through the spread of knowledge and ideas.

Co-operation: With editors, contributors, formatters, designers, IT consultants and publishers.

Courage: Daring to put your writing out into the world despite being anxious about self-disclosure or criticism; writing about painful or controversial subjects.

Creativity: This is obvious.

Freedom: Writing, especially for self-published authors, offers great independence and flexibility compared with most other occupations.

Humility: Willingness to take advice, and to learn from criticism.

Kindness and Tolerance: To be kept in mind when writing about other people, or when reviewing others’ work.

Learning and Discovery: Both for yourself and your readers.

Patience and Perseverance: It takes months or even years to write a book of good quality, then there can be another long wait before seeing it in print.

Pleasure, Fun, Humour: The enjoyment of writing. You just love doing it, and perhaps do not care very much whether other people want to read your work.

Relationships: Though you may seldom meet your readers face to face, and may never know how most of them have responded to your work, the impact you have on them is vitally important.

Spirituality: Whether or not you cover spiritual topics in your work, you may consider the calling or vocation of writing to be part of your ‘soul’s purpose’.

None of these qualities are ‘better’ than others, but some of them will rate more highly in your personal worldview. Considering which of them seem most important will help you to choose the most appropriate genre and subject-matter, and the best context in which to work, and to decide how much time and effort you want to devote to marketing as opposed to writing itself. Although you may sometimes be willing to compromise in order to meet the requirements of publishers, readers or employers, your work will not feel completely satisfying unless it is well aligned with your personal values.

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