Several years ago I found my enjoyment of writing for magazines had faded. At that time, most of my writing revolved around my previous career as a small animal veterinarian, but writing about animal health issues had become boring and routine. Fortunately, I stumbled upon an idea that revitalized my love for writing. I invented a writing project, but not just any project. One of my favorite vet-related assignments had been to interview Bill Irwin and his dog, Orient. Irwin was the first blind man to walk the entire Appalachian Trail with Orient leading the way. I loved working on the piece and wanted to write similar articles that would give me a greater sense of purpose and that would allow me to tap into my passion as well. So, I created Project Purpose:
To write and publish articles about people and institutions whose lives and missions are dedicated to a bold and inspired purpose or vision.
I started to focus my efforts on getting assignments that would fit Project Purpose by including the project in my query letters. About three months later I received my first Project Purpose assignment from New Age Journal (since re-named Body and Soul) to write a profile of Bo Lozoff of The Human Kindness Foundation in Carrboro, North Carolina. It was the largest assignment I’d received, both in the prestige of the magazine and the size of the paycheck. In fact, the check was for twice as much I had previously received for any other single article.
The most interesting phenomenon was that receiving the payment was the proverbial icing on the cake. I enjoyed the entire assignment, from researching the article to writing the piece. Even the revision process was virtually painless because I was doing something close to my heart. When the check arrived, the icing on an already delectable dessert, I knew I had hit upon something really important. As Greg Braendel of Career Dreams, Inc. and another Project Purpose profile subject says, “Passion always sells; obsession never does.”
Create Your Own Revitalizing Project
I truly believe that what gave my writing project so much energizing power was that it reconnected me to a sense of purpose and passion. So, start to create your own project by asking yourself; what stirs your passion? The question isn’t as silly as you may think. Many people have lost touch with their passion, the inner spark that ignites them to inspired action. The best they can muster is a mild curiosity or a passing interest. The following exercise will help you get in touch with your passion. Find a nice quiet place where you won’t be disturbed as you go through this five-minute exercise.
The Passion Police are on the way to your home with a mission is to take away everything you’re passionate about. Your only hope is to write down those things in life that are really important to you. If it’s not written down, the Passion Police will take it away, never to be in your world again.
You must be as precise as possible about what you write. For instance, if relationships are important to you, write down which relationships are important. If you love animals, which ones do you love the most and why? Describe the specific details of your passion. What do you want to be left in your world after the Passion Police leave? It must be written down. Take five minutes to record in your notebook everything about which you’re passionate, then set the list aside for a day or two. When you come back, use the list to help guide you to the subject or subjects about which you most want to write while keeping in mind the various markets that would be interested in those subjects. Write down a simple statement of your new writing project and begin to include it in future queries. Here’s an example:
This article is part of a long term writing project—Project Purpose: to write and publish articles about people whose lives are dedicated to a bold and inspiring purpose or vision. This project eventually led me to co-found Life On Purpose Institute after writing about dozens of purposeful people (samples HERE ).
Just be forewarned. It’s impossible to predict where a purposeful, passion-filled writing project might lead you, but I can promise that you won’t be disappointed by the final destination.
Besides his extensive magazine writing experience, W. Bradford Swift is also the author of From Spark to Flame: Fanning Your Passion & Ideas into Money-making Magazine Articles that Make a Difference, and Life On Purpose: Six Passages to an Inspired Life — an award-winning finalist in the Self-Help: Motivational division of the Best Books 2007 Awards sponsored by USA New. Swift is also the author of twenty books of speculative fiction including the FreeForm Series under the pen name of Orrin Jason Bradford. His website is: www.wbradfordswift.com .