This post is taken from material I use in my workshop: The 90-Minute Novel. Over the next weeks, as I prepare to teach at the Surrey International Writers’ Conference in B.C., I will continue to post exercises from the workshop. Many of them are applicable to writers of memoir as well as fiction.

The Contract: When you sell your book to a publisher, you will be asked to sign a company contract. Now, wherever you are in the process of your new writing project, I am asking you to sign a contract with yourself. This contract means you will:
A) Aim to matter.

B) Be your authentic self.
C) Commit to making meaning.
D) Define and embrace daily your deepest values.
E) Express your truth through your innate talents, using heart, mind, body and story.
F) Fully intend to fulfill your life purpose and lead a meaningful life, at least for you.
G) Go for it–welcoming risk, facing fear, and nurturing joy and community!

When you make up your mind to matter, when you set your intention to speak out and share your truth, your core values and your vision, your energy shifts and you become focused in a vital way. Here is your new mantra: My voice is powerful, I commit to making a difference, I intend to matter.
When you decide to make meaning, you are letting the universe know you do not intend to sit around and wait for revelations, insights, or divine interventions–you are going for it. You are consciously defining your core values–heart, mind and spirit–and utilizing your innate talents to express those values in meaningful projects. Finally, you are making a commitment to share your vision with others–knowing that risk and fear come with the territory, as do joy and fulfillment.

Do: Take time to consider how you will hone your very personal contract. It’s fine to keep it brief. I redo mine regularly. My latest: I will make use of my talents, imagination, and skills creatively, with open heart and mind, in the service of truth-sharing and story. I will also endeavor to lead a rich, authentic and loving life with family and friends.

When you’ve written your contract, date it, sign it, and keep it near you when you are writing. This contract, and its revisions in the future, will serve you throughout your creative life. It will also remind you of your full commitment as you begin each new project.

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