Nevermind that we’re less than two weeks away from Christmas, frantically trying to get the cards in the mail, the packages wrapped, and the holiday treats baked and delivered, I’ve already begun seeing Instagram Best Nine in 2017 squares showing up in my feed. The truth is, we won’t even have time to vacuum up the pine needles before we’ll be inundated with 2017 “best of” lists. The Guardian has already published a whole slew of articles about the best books of 2017. Huffpost has their list of 2017’s notable movies. And Time named their person (people, in this case) of the year for 2017 more than a week ago.
In some cases, these “best of” lists are probably fluff pieces to cover for a skeleton staff and meager readership over the holidays. I’ve helped generate such lists myself. But they also can help tell a story about what we’ve collectively been reading and watching and thinking about for the year. If the best of lists can do that for a country or an audience, just think what they could do for an individual?
Consider writing your own “best of” lists for 2017. These could be for publication if you have a blog post or newsletter where they’d make sense. Or, you could simply take the last days of 2017 or the early days of 2018 to reflect on the work you accomplished this year as an exercise for personal growth. Whatever your plans for them, here are a few “best of” lists you could compile.
- Most Read Blog Posts: Are you a blogger? Then take some time to see which of your posts resonated most with readers. Use your blog host’s analytics or tap into Google Analytics to see what people were reading this year. Does the list surprise you? Could you use the momentum of these posts to write more about these same topics?
- Best Paid Writing: Is making money part of the goal of your writing? If so, take some time to determine which assignments actually brought in the most income. Consider how you might be able to invest more of your time on these projects in order to boost your income or help stabilize your freelance career.
- Most Exciting Projects: This one is a little more subjective, but what writing did you do this year that really excited you? Think about the top 5 (or top 10 if you were really productive) things you wrote that came from a place of passion or enthusiasm. What made these pieces so enjoyable? How can you replicate or build off those experiences?
- Best Writing Lessons: Okay, so not everything went great this year. It didn’t for me, either. But hopefully we learned something along the way. Make a list of those things. What did you learn? How can you use those lessons to adjust the way you work in 2018?
- Best Articles/Books You Read: If you’ve been around these parts for long, you’ll know that I am a big proponent of reading regularly and widely, across topics and genres, in order to become a better writer. So, make a list. What did you read this year that made you want to be a better writer? What motivated you or inspired you? Could you reread those same works again or find new books or articles by the same authors? Let your 2017 reading push you to more reading in 2018.
- Most Encouraging Writing Relationships: This one may seem a little out there, but hear me out. Writing has the reputation of being a solitary practice, but there’s so much to gain from hanging out with other writers. Make a list of the writers you hung out with in 2017 that were most inspiring and helpful to you as a writer. Include the kinds of activities, conversations, or resources that were part of those meet-ups, and determine which ones were most helpful. Then, create a plan for how you will spend time with these or other writers in 2018.
- Best Writing Tools: Did you discover a new app or program or process in 2017 that really helped you as a writer? Will you continue using them in the new year? Make a list of these helpful tools and try to find new ways to use these tools to meet other needs you have. For instance, I finally figured out a helpful way to use a bullet journal to keep me organized. For 2018, I’m going to move some other functions and processes that are scattered across apps and notebooks into my bullet journal.
The next few weeks may not be as productive as normal in terms of word counts or deadlines met, but that doesn’t mean you can’t continue to make progress in your writing life. Take some time to reflect on 2017 by making your own “best of” lists and get ready for a great 2018!