Thursday, January 10, 2008

Year-end review, with yourself

Here's the interesting thing about writing. You never know how something is going to come out until you write it. And you never know how it will resonate with the rest of the world until you put it out there. Okay, I guess that's two things.

A couple of weeks ago I did a guest-post on Marci Alboher's blog at the NYT, Shifting Careers. (A most excellent blog, by the way, independent of my own participation.)

I wrote this particular post during a recent visit to my mom's house in the burbs of San Diego County (San Marcos, California, to be precise -- a little prefab town that oddly has its own Bikram yoga studio). "Hmm," I thought. "What could I write that could be useful. Maybe some kind of exercise." I thought back to an exercise I did with my friend Polly on a Hawaii vacation three years before. "Well, I guess I could try that," I mused. I wrote it up, edited it down, and sent it off to Marci, with a not untypical email message to the effect that if she thought it sucked, I could try something else.

She loved it and posted it. It became widely read. It generated a number of strange ad hominem attacks and revealed that there is a certain sector of the population that has great hostility toward things like setting goals and in particular toward yoga bootcamp (which was merely a casual mention in the post but generated an extended argument about the divorce settlement of Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love. I know, kind of weird.)

But traffic continued to grow. I know, because I obsessively check the visiting stats for this blog as well as my somewhat duplicative but slightly different blog, The Creative Lawyer. Lots of potential client contacted me, as well as people I worked with more than ten years ago. It made the top ten emailed articles on the biz section. Which isn't the top ten overall, but still! Some people wrote on their own blogs about how they actually did the exercise, which made me very happy.

Anyhow, the point of all this is: you never know. If you feel the inkling of creativity, just do it. Reach into the well and see what's there, and then with a deep breath send it out to the world.

Oh, here is that cool invented-in-Hawaii exercise. The point is to look at the previous year before moving on to the next one. It's a method of taking you through the year to get clear on what, in hindsight, was meaningful to you. My favorite web post that I read about this was on a blog called Maigrey:"I'm astonished how unimportant the various men I've dated are. Seriously. Some not even mentioned, and not a one of them underlined. On the other hand, my lady friends got hearts."

Try it. It's fun and it works.