Crafting an Artistic Mission Statement – by Cynthia Beach

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West Michigan oil painter and illustrator Jim Connelly is a true believer—in artistic mission statements. A few years ago, he crafted a statement which named his artistic aim. “As an artist,” he wrote, “I humbly pursue the godly excellence I see in creation by practicing my craft daily with energy and reverence for the gift God has given me.” His statement also names himself as a “creative impressionistic painter with the ability to draw expressively and accurately.”

When Connelly began to read his statement aloud daily, his art—and his opportunities—changed. New doors opened, including a prestigious cover for Southwestern Art. Soon after, he challenged me as a writer to craft my own statement. So, I did.

I followed Connelly’s two-part structure: confirming why I write and explaining who I am as a writer. I also brainstormed words I love like soul and truth. After opening with my commitment to God, my statement reads, “I am a creative wordsmith with the ability to reflect and reveal the human soul and its need for God truthfully and redemptively. My unique combination of depth, experience, insight and word use makes my work a personal statement about my fervent belief in God and his love for us.”

Writing this statement stirred my inner fire, my desire to write.

Writer Roy Peter Clark recommends writing a mission statement for each project. In Writing Tools, Clark says, “Most writers aspire to some invisible next step—for a story or a body of work. Writing down your mission turns your vague hopes into language.”

One example he gives is to state that “I want to portray my protagonist as a fully human character—not some cardboard cut-out saint.”

Like oil painter Jim Connelly, I now read aloud my statement. It has become a ladder for me, a peg on which I balance, an important step upward.


Excerpted from Creative Juices: A Splash of Story Craft, Process & Creative Soul Care (2019)

Cynthia Beach is the author of The Surface of Water and the writing book, Creative Juices. She is a longtime professor of creative writing at Cornerstone University. See