In order to find meaning in your work and purpose in your life, you must first pinpoint what you are most passionate about, then commit to pursuing it.
Make Meaning Podcast host Lynne Golodner recently interviewed author Patrick Hicks about how important it is to identify your calling, then strive to incorporate your purpose into your life in ways large and small.
Patrick says writing grounds him. On Episode 102 of the Make Meaning Podcast, he tells Lynne about his love not just for putting words to paper but everything around the process of writing – from research and connecting with readers to teaching the craft to others.
A Passion for Words
Patrick has authored more than 10 books, including The Collector of Names, Adoptable and This London. Three are historical fiction set during the Holocaust, including his latest, In the Shadow of Dora. That novel tells the story of how Jewish prisoners contributed to the Apollo space program, building the world’s first rocket within the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp.
The book has been nominated for several awards, and most recently was named a finalist for the ScreenCraft Writing Competition, which recognizes books with exceptional promise to be made into movies.
Patrick found his purpose in life early, knowing he wanted to be a writer since childhood. He began writing at a young age, and went on to major in English, earning a BA from St. John’s University, Master’s Degrees from DePaul University and Queen’s University Belfast, and his PhD in Creative Writing and Irish Literature from the University of Sussex.
“Then it just became a question that every writer has to answer at some point … how do I pay my bills?” he says.
He found the answer in teaching.
Sharing the calling
Patrick is writer-in-residence at Augustana University in South Dakota as well as faculty member in the MFA program at Sierra Nevada University. In both capacities, he helps aspiring writers find their voice and commit to their craft.
Patrick says he was lucky to identify his passion early in life, but he urges others to be courageous in finding their purpose at any age. Here are a few tips from his interview on the Make Meaning Podcast that may help you find and commit to your passion:
Write a Mission Statement
Identifying who you are, what you want to do and what matters most to you isn’t easy.
Patrick found it helpful to write a mission statement, much like businesses do. Writers are entrepreneurs, after all.
Patrick’s mission statement is “to write books that are unputdownable, and will enlight and delight the reader.”
What is your mission statement? Download our Make Meaning worksheet for help writing your own.
Make the Time
Patrick has structured his life and career around the written word, by building a schedule that allows him to practice his craft.
He’s up by 6:30 every morning to write for a few hours before heading to teach. If he veers from his routine, it shows.
“I get really grumpy,” he says. “My wife will actually say, ‘Have you written anything for a while?’”
During summer breaks, Patrick spends more time writing and traveling to research for his books.
How can you build time into your schedule on a daily, weekly and annual basis to do what you love? It might mean waking a little earlier, staying up later, or registering for workshops or retreats around your passion and letting family members know how important they are to you.
Step Away From the Familiar
Patrick’s mother was an Irish immigrant, and he holds dual citizenship in Ireland and America. He has lived abroad and traveled extensively, and he is a strong advocate for international travel.
In pursuing your passion and purpose, Patrick recommends breaking out of your comfort zone to explore the wider world.
“Sometimes you’ll find purpose by stepping away from what you know,” he says.
Where can you fearlessly go for new experiences and inspiration?
Patrick enjoys helping aspiring writers find their voice, which he calls an act of bravery.
“If we can be brave on the page, that can bleed over to the rest of our lives,” he says.
Pursue your passion courageously. It can lead you to be adventurous in other areas of life.
How can you be brave in finding and cultivating your voice?
Write Like Hemingway
In Lynne’s interview with Patrick, the author said many students imitate their favorite writers as a path to finding their own voice.
Weekly lessons will examine how Hemingway wrote such spare and powerful prose, and offer tips for adopting some of the elements of his compelling writing in your own, no matter what genre you prefer.
The 8-week online class starts on June 16. Learn more about the class and register here.
Lynne will also teach a class on Writing & Publishing Op-Eds through WWD, beginning in August.
Market With Meaning
Through the Make Meaning Movement, Lynne specializes in helping individuals and organizations market with meaning.
Inquire about Lynne’s offerings here.
Listen to the Make Meaning Podcast episode featuring Patrick Hicks here.
If you enjoyed this episode, you’ll like these other Makine Meaning podcast episodes!
- Episode 79: Laura Munson, NYT Best-Selling Author and Founder of Haven Writing Retreats
- Episode 73: Writing through Prison with Jim Reese
- Episode 66: Author Aaron Dworkin on Elevating and Sharing Musical Talent
- Episode 68: Literary Arts Activism with M.L. Liebler
- Episode 56: Writing About the Good Life with Ken Budd
- Episode 17: Telling Stories that Matter with Karen Dybis