Did your writing measure up this year?
That feels a little harsh, doesn’t it? But I bet your inner critic is asking the same thing – poking you to see if you and your writing measured up this year.
How do you make an honest assessment of your progress that’s not fueled by the gremlin’s sharp stick poking you? If you’re like my clients, it’s easy to forget all the boons and progress you made.
Last week I wrote about how our superlatives are killing us. How they represent a standard – best, most, perfect – that we simply can’t achieve. We also can’t assess progress on those terms.
So how do we glean satisfaction from our efforts? This article will help you absorb all the nutrients from your efforts and your successes so you can build on them next year.
Pause and absorb the nutrients of your successes
These are the questions I ask myself and offer to my clients; I invite you to make the most of your writing year by answering them too. Make a pot of tea or pour a glass of wine and enjoy savoring your writing year. Look back at your mid-year check-in, and to use this metric to gauge your progress and process:
1. On a scale of one to ten, how satisfied are you with your efforts?
2. What could you have done (given all the circumstances of your life) to bring that satisfaction level up two notches?
3. On a scale of one to ten, how satisfied are you with the results of your efforts?
4. What acknowledgement can you give yourself for all you did and felt?
5. Check your numbers. List your numbers in the following categories that are meaningful to you:
- Number of publications
- Number of hours or writing sessions you logged
- Number of writing retreats you gave yourself
- Amount of money you earned from writing
- Number of books sold
- The amount of help you asked for and received
- Number and quality of comments on your blog
- Number and quality of reviews
The numbers are the external measurements, but they’re not the only way to assess your success. Go back to your satisfaction and really soak in all the effort you put into your writing. That is where you will be able to relish your good enough writing year – by measuring your efforts and not your results.
Sometimes answering these questions brings disappointment. For me, I never have as many comments or views as I want. But my expectations and disappointments don’t stop me. Don’t let yours put a lid on your writing, either. Use your dissatisfaction to fuel next year’s best writing efforts.
6. What didn’t happen that you wanted to happen?
7. What can you do differently next year?
8. How does this assessment help you set expectations that will help you feel successful?
9. Finally, what image can you post in your writing space that reminds you of your efforts in 2012? This photo of me proudly holding my book at Shakespeare and Company in Paris marks many hours of work come to fruition. The photo helps me savor all of it.
Be real, be kind to yourself
I’ve seen unrealistic expectations do more damage than good with my students and clients. Big dreams are great, I’m all for them, but expecting too much from ourselves can bring disappointment and discouragement. Examples include expecting ourselves to write every day no matter what. Thinking we can forge ahead no matter what the circumstances, season or level of our energy.
We’re human, and our energy ebbs and flows as much as our creative output does. Be kind to yourself as you assess your progress and reevaluate your process.
No one can tell you how to measure your success. I invite you to be clear about which metrics are important to you and why. Gleaning satisfaction from your writing this year can help point you toward what you need to enjoy even more success next year.
What helps you feel satisfied with your writing efforts?