In the corporate world—where goals, benchmarks, and achievements are highly valued—an annual review is one step in helping align our own ambition with our company's broader mission. It's typically led by the human resources department, and ideally, you sit with your manager to have a productive and reflective conversation about the year ahead. I've done some version of this exercise for years, and I'm sure you have, too.
@@As a writer, you're in charge of your own growth.@@
No one sets up meetings or looks out for your professional development, and it's up to each of us to manage our goals and expectations. This is one step towards professionalizing your writing practice, something I discuss a lot in the Write Where You Are course. The problem is, we rarely sit down to really think about how we're feeling creatively.
4 Benefits of Conducting a Writing Annual Review
There are several reasons why taking stock of your writing year can be beneficial.
1. Honor where you are
If you don't pause every so often to reflect on what you've done and where you'd like to go, you're missing an opportunity to take care of yourself, creatively speaking.
It's tempting to want to keep typing furiously on a short story or churn out blog posts week after week. But you need to rest. This exercise forces you to not only be honest about what obstacles or challenges there might be to your writing life (a tough commute, lack of inspiration, or a recent move, perhaps), but remind yourself of what you've accomplished, however small.
2. Sort out your feelings
Our feelings can be strong indicators of which direction to go, but it requires sitting still and listening. Consciously getting to the bottom of why you feel the way you do can help you find clarity, especially on how to move forward with various projects.
3. Make important decisions
We never have enough time to write, so it's incredibly important to get clear about what's most important. Sometimes all it takes is putting pen to paper to track all your ideas against the reality of your circumstances.
4. Build momentum
Now it's time to renew your enthusiasm for the upcoming writing year! Never underestimate the power clarity can have on your creative life. By knowing the most important projects to work on, then making shifts in your schedule or priorities to support yourself, you'll be starting the new year with a renewed sense of purpose and momentum.
What to Include In a Writing Annual Review
1. What you've written
Start by accounting for all the writing you've done—everything from blog posts to manuscript drafts to work projects. Sometimes the act of capturing all these accomplishments actually reminds us how far we've come! (Check out this post from Sarah Dobson, where she realized she'd written 32,000 words without really trying.)
2. Reflections on the current year
Next, devote some time to thinking about how these projects made you feel. Which ones inspired you, which felt tedious? Did you start something you didn't finish? Did something take longer than you thought?
3. Time management
Keeping in mind how much you accomplished (or not), and your current circumstances, where can you make changes to help support your writing? Brainstorm some ways to shift your schedule or find pockets of time to work.
4. The year ahead
Determine a few areas where you'd like to make progress in the coming year. If you're a visual person, sort projects by month to help give you a gauge for what to work on when.
Now, if all this sounds great yet slightly overwhelming, not to worry! Just fill out the form above to download an annual review workbook for 2016!