Here we are at the end of another month!
How did your writing go in February?
Perhaps you don’t think of your projects in month-long chunks. Maybe you didn’t make specific goals for February. That’s totally cool.
But, it’s still a good idea to check-in with yourself every so often to make sure that your systems and plans are working the way you want them to.
So, the end of the month is as good a time as any to do a little reflection and see how things are going.
That’s why I’ve made a list of questions for you to consider as you look back on the past few weeks.
No Guilt! No Pressure!
None of these questions are intended to make you feel bad or to create any sort of guilt loop. And they definitely aren’t intended to pressure you to do more, more, more.
These questions aren’t about judging yourself, either.
Instead, they are about taking a realistic look at your time, your energy, and your expectations.
These questions can help you identify issues and obstacles that keep you from writing the way that you had planned.
After all, the sooner you see them, the sooner you can work around them!
So, please check out the questions below and answer any that feel useful to you.
Start by Celebrating
What WERE you able to get done? Every word written, every minute spent thinking about your project is a victory.
Even if all of your writing time was dedicated to research or outlining, that is something to celebrate. It’s not just about words on the page, preparing to work is part of the work.
Look at the Big Picture
How do your feel about your writing this month? Satisfied? Frustrated? Just kind of meh?
What were some of your high points? Did you have any lows?
Do your satisfying days have anything in common?
How about your frustrating ones?
Count Some Stuff
Depending on how you measure your progress, count things up.
How many words did you write? Can you add up the hours that you spent writing or doing writing-type things?
How well do your results match your goals?
If you wrote far more than you had set out to write, what contributed to your success? Can you create those conditions again in the future?
If you wrote far less than you had planned, what got in your way? Did you set your goals too high? Did something come up in your personal or professional life that interrupted your plan?*
Either way, gather information about your results and put it to use for your next writing goal.
Check on Your What
Were you able to write what you wanted? Could you work on the project that you had in mind when you made your plans?
If you worked on the project/part of the project that you intended to work on, make some notes about how you set up that success.
If you couldn’t work on your intended project, what did you work on instead? Make some notes about why it was easier/more straightforward to do that work.
If you weren’t able to write what you wanted, think about why that was. Did you not have clarity around your ideas? Was your plan not clear enough? Were you missing information that you needed? Was the scope of your plan too large and you got overwhelmed?
Or perhaps you just need a back-up project to turn to when your primary project is going a little too slowly for your liking.
Check on Your When
Could you write at the times you had planned to write?
If so, make some notes about what things you put in place to help that happen.
If you weren’t able to write when you wanted, have a look at the things that got in your way.
Could you just not focus? Or was there something external in your way – a messy desk, another obligation, an unexpected situation. Do you need to change the time that you plan to write? Or do you need to create an on-ramp to your writing time? Or do you need outside help to keep distractions at bay?
Perhaps you accidentally chose a time of day when your brain isn’t in ‘writing mode.’ Or maybe you chose a time when there are too many people around.
There could be lots of reasons why writing isn’t possible at different times of day. It makes a lot more sense to choose a different time than to try and change everything else about your life so you can write right then.
Check on Your Goals
If you set goals and didn’t meet them, you might want to take a closer look at them.
Were they feasible, given the time and energy you had this past month? If the answer is no, dial back next month’s goals to align them with your capacity.
Did you have systems in place to help you meet your goals? Or did you just hope that having the goal would drag your forward? (no judgement here, I fall into that trap lots of times!)
If you didn’t have any systems in place – a plan for when, where, and how to write and a plan for how to protect that space, time, and method – perhaps you could develop some for the month ahead.
If you did have systems in place but they didn’t work, how can you adjust them based on the information you have now?
It’s Worth Checking In
Whether you are working month by month or on some other timeline, it’s worth pausing every now and then to see how things are going. That pause, that check-in, lets you stay realistic about your plans and change them to match your current circumstances. And it helps you to be kinder to yourself about the writing process and about your results.
Start by celebrating what you did achieve and then set yourself up for success in the future, no matter what time frame you are using.
*This is a good time to note that many people have been struggling with their writing and their creativity over the long months of dealing with the anxiety and changes relating to the pandemic. If you feel this is the case for you, please chose to lower your expectations/change your goals rather than being hard on yourself about not meeting them.