Sunday 20 November 2011

Self-appraisal: what you have achieved this year?

One thing I have not done - tidy my office
One of the things about being self-employed is that you don't get that annual appraisal thing that employed people get. Nor do you get the work Christmas lunch. *Note to self - line up some Cambridge writers for a work Christmas lunch.* It's worth doing your own annual appraisal, especially if you don't think you're getting anywhere. It might reassure you - or it might give you the kick you need to realise you really aren't getting anywhere and need to make some changes. (Hey, it's not my job to pull punches.)

You can set your own rules and your own standards. I live on my writing income, so if I'd written three wonderful novels and not yet sold them, that would be a failure. If you're a full-time pilot with five children and no partner, writing two pages might be a massive success. Be realistic.

I used to do an appraisal/audit at the end of every year - review what I'd done and set targets for the next year. It sounds very artificial, and it was done in a very lighthearted way, but I think it was valuable. I haven't done it for a while. It's two years since my life fell apart big-time and I feel I've done nothing since then. So time for a return to the end-of-year audit (end of two years, this time). Since Nov 2009 I have:
  • written 25 books (one was rejected at acquisitions, but I count the writing anyway - I'm not counting those I didn't send out)
  • been an RLF fellow one day a week for a year (harder than it sounds, as there was 5 hours travel each day as well as seeing the students)
  • been an RLF lector for a year and a bit (ongoing)
  • revised a set of seven revision guides that I wrote ages ago for a new edition (heavy rewrite)
  • taught two summer schools at Downing College, Cambridge
  • started working with three new publishers - *hello, publishers*
  • written a few articles 
  • mentored a couple of people
  • given (very few) talks
  • got AS level Italian
  • continued this blog, if that counts. Intermittently, I admit.
What are the failures? Well, I've done very few book reviews; I've abandoned a couple of ambitious projects - or at least put them on hold; decided A2 Italian couldn't be worked around bint's GCSEs; NOT started my publishing company; not put any effort into selling new book ideas; not been to the Bologna book fair either year; not looked for a new agent after parting company with the old agent.

On balance, enough done. I think. Or maybe not. Time will tell. See if I'm still here next year....

Then you have to set your goals for next year. You choose the balance of realism and optimism, but remember that you're going to look back on it next year and assess how well you did. I'm not putting my goals here - it's not just that I can do without the public humiliation, but professionally it's not a good idea. But I'll let you know next year if I did them.

So - do your own professional writing audit. Or illustrating audit, if that's what you do. What have you tried? What have you achieved? What have you failed at? What will you do next year? Which skills do you want to develop? How? Treat your writing like a real job - if you don't, no one else will.


1 comment:

  1. An excellent proposal, S.A. Will consider it once am sure I've got a glass of the strong stuff nearby. And a notepad. And a handkerchief. (And my Liar's Cap on??)

    Have fun on your works outing!