Friday, December 21, 2018

Your Writing Life: The Benefits of an End-of-Year Review

Last year, I coached a business owner who was writing a book about his years as a wildly successful entrepreneur.  He attributed much of that success to his practice of regularly stepping back to review of how he was doing.  He did this weekly, taking an hour or so to write down what he'd accomplished or realized or changed in his business procedures, how he worked with employees or clients, what he'd learned along the way, as well as the next week's priorities.  

I was intrigued.  I'd always enjoyed setting goals but rarely did I take time to acknowledge where I'd been.  So I began testing out this practice.  For one year, I chose an hour each weekend to list what I'd realized about my writing life.  

I wrote it in bullet points.  What progress had I'd made? What did I learn? What ideas had come, unexpectedly?  What serendipitous gifts had come my way?

My list often surprised me.  By tracking the gifts of realization, I saw steady progress, even at times when I thought my writing life was dead in the water.  I also saw how my intentions, the questions I put out to the universe, were often answered.

One was about a writing group.  I'd wanted to work with a small group of published writers, like myself, who were serious and committed, and I wanted a way to do this without driving far in winter.  I'd tried for years to find a group, started and stopped several, and had basically given up.  But the intention, the wish, was still there.  And by charting my progress and dreams each week, I saw how it had come true--at last.

Off the clock, I talked with my client about this.  He confirmed the power of the exercise, and how intentions fuel all kinds of miracles.  But he also said that few creative folk take time to acknowledge their accomplishments--themselves.  They subconsciously wait for others to do this for them.  But in a writing life, especially when you are submitting your writing for publication, this kind of encouragement comes rarely.  Mostly we deal with the cycle of rejection and get inured to the need for praise. 

I can craft to-do lists, write my goals, and break them into steps quite efficiently.  But it was only when I began to track my positive accomplishments, my turning points, as a writer, that I began to feel the solidity of this writing life.

Since we're at the end of the year, I'm taking a break from this blog to do my end-of-year review.  I'd like to encourage you to set aside time this weekend, or after the holiday flurry has passed, and acknowledge your accomplishments, realizations, and dreams achieved.  The steps are simple, but here are some questions to get you started.

1.  What did I want to have happen with my writing life this past year?  What steps did I take to bring that about?

2.  What was my biggest ah-ha moment, or realization?

3.  What were my actual accomplishments?  (List these, of any size, without judging:  pages written, manuscript revised, a number of agents queried, a new writing partner found, classes you took) 

4.  Where did I find the most satisfaction or joy?  (The answer may surprise you!)

If you want, add another chunk of time to dream ahead.  What would you most like to focus on, accomplish, learn, or practice in the coming year, in regards to your writing life?  How would you like to view it, looking back, when we reach December 21, 2019?

Happy holidays and new year, whatever you celebrate.  Your weekly writing exercise will resume on January 4.  In the meantime, scroll down to see what you might have missed!

PS  Still one spot left in my annual retreat/workshop in Tucson, January 14-18.  It's going to be amazing.  Click here for more information or email me at mary (at) marycarrollmoore (dot) com with any questions.