Do you have an annual writing checkup?

Physical health and writing health go hand in hand.

Do you have an annual writing checkup?
Photo by Online Marketing / Unsplash

I went to the doctor today for my annual physical. I call it my “am I still alive” appointment. The doctor asks me a few questions, we go over the bloodwork, I get a few directions, and I’m on the way.

While the appointment itself is quick and painless, the importance is vital to my existence. My doctor is looking for ways to improve my overall health while also keeping an eye out for potential problems down the road.

We should put our writing through an annual physical — looking for simple methods of improvement or problems to avoid.

Adjust The Numbers

It seems like every year my doctor wants me to adjust a count in my bloodwork. One year he said my good cholesterol was a little low while another year my bad cholesterol was a little low. Without fail, each checkup there is a number that needs adjusting.

What numbers need adjusting in your writing? Maybe it’s a decrease in the number of adverbs you use. Maybe it’s increasing the submissions you send out. Maybe you want to increase the number of followers, like Sam H Arnold shared in our Slack community when I asked about writing checkups.

What is the number you need to adjust and how are you going to make the change?

Increase Activity Level

Without fail, my doctor asks about my level of physical activity. Without fail, regardless of my answer, he tells me there’s room for more. Increasing my exercise level can only pay off in positive ways.

Likewise, adding more writing time cannot be a bad thing. In his edition of Write Now, Andy Weir explains he denies himself other things until he’s written for the day. He’s not alone. Regular, scheduled writing is a common thread among the answers in many upcoming editions of Write Now.

How can you increase the time you devote to writing?

Learn Healthy Practices

When my doctor asked about my diet, I told him it’s changing because of my wife’s new gluten intolerance. He told me to look up resources and research healthy gluten-free meals.

We can learn a lot from what other writers create. Last year I read 22 books and this year I’m striving to increase that number since I can learn so much about constructing great stories by reading great stories. Piotr Gaczkowski suggested our Slack community share their Goodreads accounts so we can get recommendations from each other. Give mine a follow.

What books can you read this year to improve your writing?

Find Your Team

It can take time to find a doctor’s practice you connect with and trust. A few years back, my long-time doctor closed his practice and I needed to find a new physician. It took trying out multiple doctors before I found one trusted.

Writing can be incredibly lonely, but it doesn’t have to be. As Danny Forest says, we need an entourage. The Writing Cooperative exists to provide a community to writers across the globe. Whether we’re part of your team or you have a local group, find your team.

What can you do to find your team?

Schedule Your Followup

I scheduled next year’s checkup before I left the office. It’s a year out but that way it’s already on my calendar and I need not remember to log in and schedule a new appointment.

Take your annual writing physical today. Ask yourself the important questions but schedule your next checkup, too. Make sure you’re meeting your goals or adjust accordingly. Check in and keep yourself and your writing healthy.

When is your follow up appointment?