Empower people to create meaningful content
This is the most important sentence we will ever write at Long Overdue. Our mission statement is the beating heart behind everything we do and is both the north star for where the company is headed as well as the reason we got started here in the first place.
Our mission: Empower people to create meaningful content
Maybe this is a little bit tedious, but we wanted to spend today's post breaking down each of the six words. We'll explain why we picked that specific word and how it fits into the work we are lucky enough to do.
Thank you in advance if you stick around to read an entire paragraph on the word "to." That is some serious dedication.
Let's dive in.
We start with the belief that everyone has stories to tell and has at least one book (or album, film, etc.) in them. It's not about someone giving you permission or a select few having the green light to be creators and everyone else saying, "Ah, I wish I could do that." If you're looking for permission, let this sentence be it: You officially have the authority to create.
Empowering people starts with removing obstacles. Any of the common statements like:
"I'm not smart/interesting enough."
"Who would want to hear my stories? "
"I'm too old to get started"
We work really hard to bulldoze those roadblocks. Steven Pressfield refers to these thoughts as, "The Resistance." And every person goes through it. We ensure you're not going through it alone.
The second piece of empowerment is giving you confidence, helping you get stronger in the craft. This applies to the person getting started for the very first time or the person on their 10th book who's going through a difficult bout with writer's block. We will continue to provide valuable resources on how to get started, how to keep going, how to review and revise, and how to release your work.
We love this stuff. Whoever your most passionate writing or music teacher was growing up, that's us. We believe writing should be an international phenomenon - bigger than golf, yoga, and tennis. It's the ultimate hobby that is still flying somewhat under the radar. All those years of forced five paragraph essays, strict works cited formats, writing 1,000 words on a book you didn't want to read in the first place, those did a lot to hurt the writing brand. We want to restore it.
Because when you're in the flow writing, you're on top of the world. When you're holding your first finished book, that's an incredible feeling. It's a massive achievement like completing a marathon or landing a dream job. And when you get to pass these stories on to your kids, grandkids, great grandkids, what a cool experience. You get to tell people who you are; what you thought about, what you cared about. Everyone should feel empowered to reach these moments.
We were intentional to use the word "People" and not "writers" or "artists."
First reason: goes back to our initial belief - everyone has a story to tell. We love working with an author on her fifth book, but we equally love helping a retired person who just got an idea for his first book. We love helping the recently graduated English major as they begin their writing career, but would also welcome the high school dropout who's part Jack Kerouac, part J.D. Salinger. Or the person who has no idea who those two writers are.
We have this long-term vision of filling an entire bookstore/coffee shop with a diverse mix of authors. All of these unique perspectives from different people around the world. Twenty years from now, we'll go there in the morning, make a cup of coffee, pull a book off the shelf. How cool would that be?
I like words that come in a three-pack. For example: Their. There. They're.
The most famous three-pack of them all has to be: to, too, and two.
I like "To" because it's a preposition that feels like a verb. There's always a sense of action to the word To. Look up the definition and you see things like: Expressing motion. Approaching. Reaching.
As people start writing more regularly, there's this empowering feeling of moving forward. That progress becomes addicting; it's the same way a runner needs to get in their daily jog or a stand-up comedian desires to get on stage as much as they can.
So, even if you're writing just for the fun of it, you don't have an end book in mind, there's still progress going on (even if it doesn't always feel like it). You still have an important To. You're writing to get better. You're creating art to express yourself. You're capturing your thoughts to work through something - be that a happy memory, painful memory, or just trying to reduce stress.
We love to see people move forward, in whatever way that means to them, who use the creative process as a source of fulfillment.
Originally we had the word "write."
And as you'll find on the website, the primary focus is all about writing stories. Turning stories into books. You'll see several blog posts focused on the book publishing world and examples like the one above about our dream bookstore/coffee shop scenario.
There is definitely a writing books focus here at the beginning of our story, but long-term our aim is to encourage all types of creative storytelling.
How cool would it be for your kids to see a short film that you made back in college. Or a kid watching their grandma's dance piece from when she was 26-years-old. Or a teenager seeing their 99-year-old great-grandpa rocking out on stage in his late 30's.
Songs. Movies. Audio stories. Cartoons. Dance. Artwork. There are definitely more ways to create stories than essays, novels, biographies, poems, etc. So we are starting with what we know best (writing for books) and will absolutely expand to these other creative outlets.
Telling a story is what's most important. Whatever medium tells that story the best/what arena you're most comfortable in, that's what we will ultimately encourage.
Let us go on the record: At Long Overdue, we have nothing against vampires, romance novels, or superhero stories.
But a problem that happens in the world of publishing is there are types/genres that perform really well and writers feel like, "Well, I need to write something like that. It's what the people are reading." Vampires, romance novels, and superhero stories definitely fall into this bucket.
Here's our rule: any project that starts with the writer saying, "This is what I think people will want," we will 100% push back on that idea. That's not where the great stuff happens. We are far more interested in what you want to write about. What's meaningful to you.
The irony is the deeper you go into yourself, the more you will connect with an audience. Not to say it will be a bestseller, but the more honest you are, more vulnerable, more authentic, that's where the best stuff happens and, in turn, the deepest connections are made with a reader (even if it's just family and friends).
And if those stories materialize into a vampire story, romance novel, superhero script, that's great. If it all starts from a place of, "This is meaningful to me, this story matters to me," we will run through walls to be a part of getting that story out there.
Within the traditional writing space, not including audio or visual, there's still a ton of different types of content. Blogs. Essays. Short stories. Fiction. Non-fiction. Poetry. Dialogue-heavy. Scenery heavy. 50-page ebook. 500 page book that's part of a trilogy. The list goes on and on.
Once we start throwing in audio and visual formats, there will be so many different types of content people can use as vehicles to tell their stories and share their views.
But what I love most about this word "content," and why it feels right as the final piece of the mission statement, is we have the same spelling for content (books, video, audio) as we do for content (the feeling of being satisfied. A state of "peaceful happiness").
What an awesome finish line to strive for and, hopefully, reach. It's not a number of book sales. Not a number of 4 or 5-star reviews online. Nothing to do with clicks, views, downloads, going viral. But, instead, a feeling of being content.
"I'm satisfied with how this turned out."
"I'm happy about this whole process."
"I'm at peace with the final project."
To us, that's what it's all about. And it's what we will continue to work towards here at Long Overdue.