When was the last time you asked yourself if you’re becoming a better writer?
Do you want to know what you should write next and what you should stop doing?
Is it difficult to balance writing with other parts of your life?
There’s a simple strategy that will help you answer these questions and gain clarity in what you’re doing.
It’s called the weekly review.
What Is a Weekly Review?
The weekly review is a productivity strategy business people and professionals use to take charge of their lives, but it’s useful for writers who want to accomplish more too.
I learnt about the weekly review several years ago from David Allen (the author of Getting Things Done). He writes:
“Most people feel best about their work the week before their vacation, but it’s not because of the vacation itself. What do you do the last week before you leave on a big trip? You clean up, close up, clarify, and renegotiate all your agreements with yourself and others. I just suggest that you do this weekly instead of yearly.”
How I Hold a Weekly Review
I’ve found a weekly review to be a great way to take charge of my writing and other areas of my life.
It gives me confidence that I’m writing the right things, at the right time, and it helps me shine a light on neglected parts of the craft.
Typically, I review my writing and other goals on a Sunday evening, and it takes just 30 minutes.
I read through my notes, evaluate my word-count for the week, and total up how long I spent writing.
I also decide what I will spend time writing in the coming week.
The good news is, a weekly review takes little time or extra work to implement.
How You Can Accomplish More with a Weekly Review
At the end of the week, put aside 30-60 minutes for your weekly review.
If it’s helpful, book this time in your calendar as a recurring appointment and commit to keeping your appointment.
Use this time to stop writing, zoom out, and gain perspective on your work.
The goal of your weekly review is to figure out what you accomplished over the past few days, what you overlooked, and what need to do or write next.
Now is not the time to write or to edit your work.
During your review, be honest with yourself. Ask and answer questions like:
- What did I accomplish or write this week?
- What went well/didn’t go well?
- What are my most important task(s) for next week?
- What was my word-count for the week?
- How many hours did I spend writing?
- How many ideas did I generate?
- How did I market my writing or my work?
- What events are in my calendar for the previous/next seven days I need to act on?
- What have I been putting off?
- What should I stop doing or say no to?
You can ask and answer these questions in a journal if you like. When you’ve answered these questions and you’re clear about what you need to do next, you’ll hit the blank page, feeling better about yourself and your creative work.
Planning for the Week Ahead
Use your weekly review to clarify your priorities and plan for future writing projects.
This may mean adding missing activities or upcoming deadlines to your calendar or deciding if you need to renegotiate commitments with your editor or clients.
If you use a To Do list, this is the time to update it with new items and remove old items you have no intention of completing.
During the weekly review, I file my research, organise my notes, and quickly read through the ideas I came up with during the week.
This helps me evaluate if there’s anything I’ve overlooked or if there’s an idea I can use over the coming days in my work.
I also write down or mark minor accomplishments during the week, such as hitting a target word count or completing a book chapter.
Plan to Start, Plan to Finish
During your review, spend a few minutes taking stock of what you accomplished, too. Minor creative accomplishments are important to mark and a great way to keep motivated.
Think of it this way: Paragraphs become book chapters, and finished chapters fill a book. The accumulation of these minor accomplishments contribute to a major one.
The weekly review is a powerful productivity strategy, which if used correctly, will help you plan for future writing projects, secure in the knowledge you have the resources and time to finish what you started.