Your year in review (or, How to ensure you get off your butt in 2008)

January 1st, 2008

hny.jpgHappy 2008, people! While the rest of the world has their collective head in the toilet and is making vague promises to whittle down their thighs and/or credit card debt, I imagine you’re pondering how you can make your creative goals for 2008 stick. Allow me to interrupt your list making a moment to share a little exercise that lit some TNT under one the most immobile arses I know — mine. (I promise this isn’t some lame creative visualization exercise where you daydream yourself into becoming the next J.K. Rowling.)

My suggestion: Write a one-page creativity CV (a.k.a. artist resume). That’s right. Create your writing (or filmmaking or illustration or game animation or clothing design) bio. Don’t bother mentioning what you do from 9 to 5 to pay the bills. Just crank out a page listing all your accomplishments in the creative work you’d be doing full time if money were no object and you weren’t already doing something else most of the week to pay off that heap of bills you racked up over the holidays.

Not sure what an artist resume looks like? Here’s one I really like.

Basically, you’re going to list some or all of these:

  • Your education and training
  • Your creations (stories, books, films, comics, designs, websites, shareware, etc.)
  • Awards and accolades you’ve received
  • Public appearances (readings, art exhibits, participation on a panel, etc.)
  • Any relevant teaching experience you have
  • Stuff you’ve done to give back to your community (judging a local fanfic writing contest, showing elementary school kids how to make dioramas, etc.)
  • Professional associations you belong to (Glassblowing Babes of Birmingham, etc.)

Don’t worry if your creativity CV is short. Type it up anyway and hang it on your wall, even if the only thing on the page is the header [Your Name], Writer Extraordinaire. Now tell me you don’t want to spend a little more time this week/month/year working on that manuscript or song lyric you put aside back in October of 2005.

I did this exercise a few weeks back while applying for a fellowship of sorts, which involved creating a one-page writing CV. It also involved staring down a cavernous hole on the page where I had expected to find my creative non-fiction achievements.

Yeah, I’d published piles of reported newspaper, magazine, and web articles over the years. And yeah, my book publishing, public speaking, and teaching credits were starting impress even the most skeptical relatives in my family. But the section of my CV highlighting the humor essays and creative non-fiction stories I’d published over the years — the stuff I really, really thrive on doing — was skimpy at best. I mean, I knew I’d been back-burnering a bunch of stories I’ve been itching to write, but that was somewhere in the far recesses of my denial-happy mind. And staring into the void of the “Stories & Essays” section on my CV pretty much hit me like a tsunami.

So I have been making lists, promises, and even a morsel of headway on a couple of stories I’ve put off for far too long. And that’s what I plan to make more time for in 2008, er, just as soon as I get this next big, totally unrelated deadline off my plate.

What about you?

Entry Filed under: This freelance life,Toolbox

7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Tiara  |  January 2nd, 2008 at 7:13 am

    Oooh, I like that idea. I use a similar concept for my current CV and it’s actually quite long (3 pages plus references) because I get involved in all sorts of things, though I suppose my descriptions make it long – if I stripped those out it’d be half the size.

    That’s a good way to separate your accomplishments by type though. Maybe you may be a bit short in the writing department, but your coaching achievements are more than you expected. Or you notice that you could do more speaking for a particular section to even out all the articles you’ve published for that same section.

    anyone else have any examples of creativity CVs? here’s mine.

  • 2. Gwynneth  |  January 3rd, 2008 at 9:00 am

    I’ve been doing something similar for some time now that I call Revised New Year’s Resolutions. I write all the practical and some non-practical wishes down in my journal, do a mid-year check to see my progress and then bask in the glow of accomplishment at year end. It’s really amazing what happens once ideas and goals are physically written down on paper – actually a little scary because looking back over the years I can see where I’ve accomplished pretty much everything I wrote down.

  • 3. Michelle Goodman  |  January 4th, 2008 at 9:48 am

    thanks for the input, tiara. and gwynneth, LOVE the “bask in the glow of accomplishment at year end” concept. i second that!

  • 4. Tiffany | Gimme Bliss  |  January 8th, 2008 at 11:53 am

    I like this idea, but when I first read the post, I misunderstood it. I thought it meant coming up with the creative CV you’d *like* to have–a kind of fantasy CV that you might use as a visualization tool. All the same categories might be there, but they need not be things you’ve done, just things you want to see on your creative CV someday.

    I think what you’re proposing is a good idea, but maybe what my poor, addled brain thought it was could be useful too. The strategy could be summed up thusly: Pretend your way to real achievement!

    Just a thought, anyway. :-) Happy (belated) New Year!

  • 5. Mel  |  January 11th, 2008 at 11:46 am

    2008, I’ve decided, is the time to change my life! I refuse to look at the dog one more morning and say to him, “One day, Dylan, I’ll only have to make coffee and go to the other room for the whole day and you can be by me!” (I’m doing this for reasons more obvious to me, than the dog).

    I just ordered your book and really look forward to reading it! The web advice is greatly appreciated as well. I’ve had only two published pieces since being a wannabe-journalist back in the mid 90s. TWO! I looked at my (non)developing CV and took your suggestions seriously to heart. This year I have many goals (resolutions) to pad my CV, AND to actually make my dream of being a full-time writer a little more of a reality.

    Thank you, thank you!

  • 6. Michelle Goodman  |  January 11th, 2008 at 12:07 pm

    tiffany, HNY to you too (and to everyone else!)… mel, you’re most welcome, and thanks to YOU too, and i hope you like the book. don’t miss ch3, which totally applies to your situation. love that your dog is named “dylan.”

  • 7. The Anti 9-to-5 Guide &ra&hellip  |  January 4th, 2010 at 9:35 am

    [...] goals for the next 12 months. Not resolutions (habits you want to form or change), but goals (stuff you want to [...]

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Who I am

Hi, my name's Michelle Goodman and I've been freelancing since 1992. I'm author of My So-Called Freelance Life and The Anti 9-to-5 Guide. Read my full bio here.

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