If you celebrate Christmas, I hope you had a restful and joy-filled time with the people you love most. If you don’t, then my warmest holiday wishes to you.
The year is nearly over (can you believe it?), and I’d like us all to take these last few days to breathe in what we’ve accomplished in our writing over the last year and do a year-end review of our writing.
This is usually a time of release. We’ve finished the manic shopping before Christmas. We’ve eaten more than we should but we haven’t started our workout/dieting regiment until January 1. We are relaxed, satiated, and so this is the perfect time for a year-end review of our writing.
What Is a Year-End Review?
The purpose of a year-end review is to experience gratitude.
We usually move so quickly through life we forget where we’ve come from, what we’ve done, what we’ve accomplished. This is especially true for our writing. We become desperate to finish that book, we write pages and pages as fast as we can, we outline and plot and capture new ideas on scrap pieces of paper and napkins. This is necessary and righteous even, for those of us who want to be writers.
A year-end review, though, is about surprise, about looking back and saying, “Oh yeah, I did that. I nearly forgot!”
A year-end review is not about editing or revising. It’s not about critiquing or judging our work good or bad.
A year-end review is about experiencing gratitude, gratitude toward ourselves, gratitude that we made the choice to write instead of watch television or procrastinate. It’s about experiencing gratitude toward the creativity inside us that allows us to put words together in just the perfect way so as to create new meaning.
It’s important to note that this isn’t just a feel-good exercise. You can’t move forward—with your writing, your life, or anything else—if you haven’t made peace with where you’ve been.
How to Do a Year-End Review of Your Writing?
First, collect all your writing in one-place. You will need a lot of room. The preferable place for your review to take place is on the floor, but a very large table will work as well. If most of your writing is on your computer, you might consider printing it out. Year-end reviews are best done in print. Collecting everything into one place may perhaps be the most difficult and rewarding piece of this process. Simply the act of handling your work from the last year will do magic for the next.
Next, read. Read a little of everything. Feel free to skim or to dive deep into one piece or other. The goal is not to read everything, which for many of us would be a huge burden, but instead to simply become familiar with what you’ve written.
Enjoy. “You are your own worst critic,” the saying goes, but this is not a time for critiquing. Instead, read your writing out of a place of appreciation instead of judgment.
Categorize. As you read, you may notice themes in your writing, images that come up again and again, or moods that you seemed to slip into often. If you like, you can use highlighters or colored pens to visualize these different themes, but simply noticing is enough.
Consider. Why did you write what you did? Why these pieces? Why these forms (e.g. why these blog posts/poems/novel chapters)? What motivated you to write over the last year? Why were you drawn to this theme or that image? Who are you as a writer? And what are you about?
Forgive. You may find that you are unable to give up judgement and truly enjoy your own writing. In this case, you must say to yourself, “I forgive you.” You must let yourself out of the expectation of genius and perfection. You must accept that the year is what it is and choose to be content with it. Do not allow yourself to say, “I forgive you, but I know next year will be better.” No buts! No strings! Only complete acceptance. (You may have to repeat this step a few times.)
This Will Make You a Better Writer
If you don’t appreciate your own writing, how can you expect others to. (Share that on Twitter?)
Now that the weather is cool, the presents all open, and the year nearly finished, this is the perfect time to look over your writing and do a year-end review.
I hope you’ll give it a try!
What did you accomplish in your writing this year? Share in the comments section.
For your writing practice today, follow the steps above to do a year-end review of your writing. Let us know how it goes in the comments section!
See you in 2015!
The Write Practice’s Year in Review
By the way, want to know how our 2014 was?
Comments and practices = 10,940
Commenters and writers = 1,741
Articles posted = 235
2014 was also the year we published our 1,000th Post and hit 200,000 monthly readers for the first time! It was such a wonderful year, and I’m so grateful for all of you. Thank you!