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Year-End Review Helps Writers Truly Assess Their Writing Business

year-end reviewA year end review is a good practice for freelance writers. Since tomorrow it will be December, it’s a good time to start thinking and writing your year-end review of your writing business.

Fortunately, since we’re freelancers, we don’t have to approach this evaluation with the kind of dread that so often happens in the corporate world.  We’re not looking for a manager to okay a past-due raise, or fearing the contribution we’ve made wasn’t even noticed. Our job and our livelihood don’t depend on this review, although properly done it can certainly enhance our lives.

Why do a year-end review?

Joe Bunting  over at The Writing Practice wrote Why You Should Do a Year-End Review for Your Writing. I really agree with his emphasis on gratitude and surprise as part of your review process.

We can be grateful for so many things, big and little about our writing business if we just take a little time. For example, here are three things I’m grateful for:

  • That I’m still a freelance writer.
  • That I’ve recently discovered many other writers hold me in pretty high esteem.
  • That my freelance writing business gives me a great deal of freedom about how I live my life.

How do do a year-end review

I suspect there are as many ways for a freelance writer to do a review as there are freelance writers.


Joe has a pretty formal process for reviewing his year. I’m sure it works for him and for many others. If you like to quantify things like how many articles, how many comments, etc., take a look at his approach.

You won’t be surprised my approach is a little different.

Essentially I take an hour or two of time when I won’t be interrupted. If I can do this outside, so much the better. Since I live in San Diego it’s often possible. I take a notebook, a good pen or two and a fresh cup of coffee and sit – almost in meditation. I take a couple of deep breaths and ask what I need to know about the last year’s writing business.

Fairly quickly ideas begin to come to me, and without editorializing I write them down. I use lists and a good friend uses a mind mapping method.

My list tends to look like this, although the handwriting isn’t as neat:

I survived.

I actually saved some money.

I can count 10 clients, including 3 new ones

I began to take more risks with my blog.

I realized I really do want to do WhenGrandmotherSpeaks.com

I failed to get an advance from one, and may never collect.

I can trust my writing habit.

Mind mapping looks more like this:

year-end review

Either way works and so do all the other methods you may run into or devise. The point is not so much how you do it, but that you do a year-end review.

What you can expect

I find over and over again that when I do a thoughtful year-end review of my writing business I’ve learned a great deal. Some of it isn’t pretty, but by starting with an attitude of gratitude, most of it enlightens me rather than discourages me. That learning is a great place for thinking about what you really want to accomplish in the next year – goal setting if you will.

There you have it.

Will you do a year-end review this year? Tell us about your plans and/or your experience.

Write well and often,




{ 5 comments… add one }
  • I need to do this for sure! I do love your take on it. I’ll admit that my first instinct was terror at the phrase “year-end business review.” But after reading this I know it’s not scary, and it will really help me to understand and sort where I’ve been so I can move into the next year with even more of a sense of calm.

    • I’m glad you let go of the terror, Hannah… year end reviews are meant to be helpful, not scary. Glad you see that now.

  • This is so true. End-of-year reviews are worthwhile. I do encourage my writers to make their reviews. This ensures they keep track of the peak season, low season, their flaws and most importantly their strengths. Keeping track helps each person better themselves.

  • I like your take on year end reviews, Anne!

    I’ve never been motivated by dollar signs or bylines or whatever stick by which people might choose to measure success. But I am grateful that I made enough money to pay the bills once again this year, and accomplished that by doing work I enjoy.

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