Credo (Latin for “I believe”) is traditionally a statement of religious belief. It is also a statement of personal belief, whether you subscribe to a religious tradition or not. If you’ve listened to any of the personal essays from the long-running public radio series, “This I Believe,” you’ve heard a variety of credos.
For writers, credos are especially powerful. The act of penning your credo on paper will remind you of your deepest beliefs. These are the beliefs that inspire you to write. You may have done this before; if so, you might be surprised how many writers have never written a credo. Either way, today is the perfect day to begin or renew your credo.
There’s nothing formal about this. No right or wrong. Be wild and let your mind play between the simple and the sacred. You may feel moved to write, “I believe in the perfection of nature. I believe family is made not born. I believe a child’s kiss is healing to the soul…” Or you may begin your beliefs by tackling the power of love, the accident of courage, the mystery of faith. As our beliefs change, so our credos follow.
Use this exercise to gain clarity and insight into your foundational beliefs and values. Write as many credos as you want. Then take time to consider what you’ve written, and make the connection between your deep beliefs and your deep stories–those stories worth writing, those narratives worthy of a commitment that may demand one year or twenty years of your life.
If you are writing fiction, do ask your characters to write their credos. Be the “credo channel” for your protagonist, antagonist, and other primary characters. After all, your deepest beliefs will guide every decision you make in life. It’s true for your fictional characters, too.
DO: Take a few minutes to write your credo. Author and playwright Denise Chavez encourages her students to write a credo today, seal it in an envelope, and open it in the future–after writing a fresh credo. Why not begin now?