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Several years ago I mentored a brilliant writer working on a gorgeous novel. To her great
delight, a major literary agent offered to represent the novel. The writer – let’s call her Suzy
– was thrilled. Until the agent suggested a series of changes which would make the novel
‘more saleable in America’. Suzy wanted to work with this agent, and she very much wanted
her novel to be published. So she attempted to wrangle her delicate, nuanced novel and
reshape it into a New-York-friendly plot-driven commercial novel. She had what she wanted
– an agent – but she was miserable.

The problem? She’d signed up with the agent without clarifying her own writerly values.
We spent some time getting clear on what Suzy valued as a writer. As it turned out, she did
value engagement, but she didn’t value ‘distraction’ or ‘entertainment’. After some
reflection, she was able to go back to her agent and have a clear conversation about what
she wanted for her book. The novel was published and received a slew of rapturous reviews
from critics and readers who engaged deeply with the themes of the book. Crucially, she
published the book she wanted to publish – and began a publishing career writing books
that she values.

To get clear on what you want, you need to be clear on what you value.

As we near the end of Immersion: Deep, take some time clarify your own values. To get you
started, here’s a list of values – underline those that align with you. What matters to you?

Core Values

– Accomplishment                                                   – Participation
– Acknowledgement                                               – Peace
– Adaptability                                                           – Personal Empowerment
– Authenticity                                                           – Profit
– Aesthetics                                                              –  Recognition
– Appreciation                                                          – Respect
– Belonging                                                               – Security
– Change                                                                    – Self-determination
– Collaboration                                                         – Self-expression
– Communication                                                    – Self-management
– Community                                                            – Solitude
– Competition                                                           – Spirituality
– Comradeship                                                         – Stability
– Creativity                                                                – Status
– Education                                                               – Success
– Excitement                                                             – Support
– Financial                                                                 – Serenity Time
– Family                                                                     – Tranquility
– Flexibility                                                                – Uniqueness
– Fun                                                                           – Zest
– Freedom to Choose                                              – Sales
– Audience                                                                – Emotional truths
– Speaking the truth to power                              – Entertainment
– Helping Others                                                      – Distraction
– Honesty                                                                   – Passing time
– Humour                                                                   – Genre
– Independence                                                        – Inventing something new
– Influencing                                                              – Changing hearts
– Integrity                                                                   – Changing minds
– Intimacy                                                                   – Musicality
– Joy                                                                             – Readability
– Knowledge                                                              – Interrogating the past
– Love                                                                          – Imagining the future
– Intellectual stimulation                                        – Bringing characters to life
– Adventure                                                               – Inspiring others
– Beautiful language                                               – Playfulness
– Revealing the underbelly                                    – Articulating feeling
– Money                                                                      – Political interrogation
– Acclaim                                                                    – Compassion
– Legacy                                                                      – Truth

Add detail where you feel it’s appropriate—for example, ‘Success—my main metric of success is, to be published overseas’ or ‘Competition—(healthy—avoiding tunnel vision about this)’

 Are there any others that I haven’t written down? Can you make a list of your top
five creative values?

When you’re flailing, uncertain of what direction to take (or what book deal to sign) – return
to your values. They are the foundation of your creative decisions.

Today’s prompt:

Write about a vision or a dream