Taking Time to Reflect on the Creative Year that Was—2022
I have been posting these questions yearly – and using them myself – for several years. By leaving the questions the same year after year, I now have a running file of answers and can see if and how my responses changed in different years. (Tip: keep a copy in Notion, Evernote, a Google doc, or your favorite text editor so you can add to it each year.)
I think it is important to do a creative year-end review in addition to any other regular life year-end review you do. This snapshot of your creative year and of what you value, what you tried, what you explored, what you discovered, what stood out, and what you loved… can be a wonderful freeze-frame to look back on later and to compare with other years.
I do a Year-End Sketchnote alongside this year-end review. If I had to choose just one, I would choose the sketchnote, so if you are up for the challenge, I encourage you to try this! But these year-end review questions are simple, straightforward, and take far less time. Both parts of the equation have meaning and can help you feel like you’ve closed things out as the year ends.
What would the snowglobe view of this creative year look like? (There is a 2021 Snowglobe episode that ties in with this question – Episode 457.) If you pulled out 12 examples (maybe one from each month or else just 12 that stand out) and made a small time capsule of your year, what would they be? What did this year tell you about who you are and who you want to be in terms of the artist within you?
The questions below represent the list I started using in 2017 for my end-of-year review. (The image version at the top of this post is a very streamlined and pared-down version of this same set of questions, increased along the way from 20 to 22. Use whichever list works best for you!)
2022 Creative Year-End Review
- What was your word for the year? (Did you track it? Did you celebrate it in any way? In what way did the word turn out to be good or not quite right for you this year?)
- What creative goals did you have for the year? (How did they go?)
- Where did you focus your (creative) energies in terms of medium or type of art?
- What big (creative) projects or challenges did you undertake during the year? (How did they go?) (Things like ICAD, Inktober, a 100 Days Project, or #IllustrateYourWeek might go here.)
- What themes or subjects did you explore throughout the year?
- What was your favorite (creative) piece/project this year? (Be specific. Make a short list if necessary.)
- What was your favorite (creative) tool this year?
- What was your favorite color or palette this year?
- What was your favorite (creative) discovery this year?
- What books made a difference in your creative life this year? (You might also answer this question for video channels or blogs.)
- What classes or workshops did you take this year?
- What is your favorite social media stream for your creative pursuits and connections? Why?
- How do you validate your creative self or keep yourself accountable?
- What changes did you make this year in support of your creativity?
- What do you wish you had done more of (creatively)?
- What (creative) project have you put off that you really want to do?
- What does your (creative) life look like?
- What do you wish your (creative) life looked like?
- How did you do this year with sharing your work?
- What made you happy?
- What was the biggest hurdle?
- What was most meaningful?
It’s worth taking the time to answer these kinds of questions, to reflect briefly on the year and wrap it up so to speak before you move on to 2023.
I love the image in my head of people who take a stack of letters at the end of a year and wrap them up and tie them in a bundle, carefully labeled maybe with a small hang tag, and add them to a stack. The process of stopping and focusing on this year as a whole has the potential to help bring some closure, some insight, and some greater awareness of your creative life.
Happy Year End and New Year!
P.S. Episode 434 is related to this process. If you are working on year-end things and reflecting on the year that has been, you might enjoy it!