Monday, September 10, 2012

Reassessing My Reassessment



by Chris Pepple, Writer-at-Large for Southern Writers Magazine 


Recently, I felt as if my writing and marketing projects weren’t headed in the right direction. Time to reassess my work! That thought made me shudder. In the past, I considered reassessing something to be a negative process. In my mind, it meant I needed to revise my plan, seeking out my mistakes. I turned this procedure into a time of extreme self-criticism, looking for faults in my work and blaming myself for errors and oversights.

This negative attitude towards reassessing projects usually slowed my work more than it helped. After any reassessment, I had to find exercises to build my confidence before I could dive back into my work fully. Reassessments left me feeling deflated rather than feeling ready to take on the next project.
But if things weren’t working well, I couldn’t avoid reassessing my current work. Before I started, however, I spent time working on schoolwork with one of my daughters. She had to look up vocabulary words in her dictionary. When she stepped away for a moment, I flipped through the pages and landed on the entry for reassess. There was that first definition: to revise. I slipped into my negative frame of mind which said revising meant changing the plan because of my failures.

Then I saw the next two definitions listed: to renew one’s assessment, to get a feel for again. Renewal? Get a feel for again? This sounded like a wonderful challenge. I could bring new life back into my projects. I could get a feel for them again and revitalize the works and myself. Why had I never looked at reassessment in such a positive light before?

The work began. How could I renew my marketing plan? I had to get a feel for my audience again. In crunching numbers and plotting strategies, I lost touch with the people I had written my e-book for. I got online to see what other books were popular with my intended audience. I searched for advertising targeting this age group. Where were they traveling and shopping? What were their hobbies? This helped me redesign my ads and overall marketing strategies. I was pleased that I had gotten a feel for my audience again.

Then I moved to my writing. I was more than one-third of the way through my next book, but the life had gone out of it. The timeframe wasn’t working, and the characters had become dull as I tried to force them into the plot. I went back to my original notes and character sketches. I got back in touch with my book and breathed new life into the characters as I made small changes to the dates and the setting.

I’m so glad I reassessed my process of reassessment! It gave me a chance to get back in touch with my projects and renew them and me along the way. 
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Chris Pepple is a talented staff writer for Southern Writers Magazine and author of Look to See Me: A Collection of Reflections(2006) and Reflections on Suffering: Defining Our Crosses and Letting Go of Pain (2012).  Chris is speaker for retreats and seminars on topics related to writing, theology and spiritual growth. 

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