I was at a point where I felt like I needed to take stock of my strengths and weaknesses to make a plan for going ahead. I could have created two simple columns on a piece of paper and listed my strengths and weaknesses on them. However, I wanted to approach the analysis in an organized way. I decided to do a SWOT analysis of myself as a writer.
SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. It’s an exercise in self-reflection, for an organization or individual, to understand their innate strengths and weaknesses as well as external opportunities and threats. This information is used to create a strategy for growth and to mitigate risk.
According to Jane Friedman, an author, the concept originated decades ago at Harvard Business School and Stanford University. Since then it’s been used by businesses as well as individuals, including creative people.
A SWOT analysis is an excellent, time-tested rule for gathering the data that will help to create an effective strategy.
What makes SWOT especially powerful is that, with a little thought, it can help you uncover opportunities that you would not otherwise have spotted. And by understanding your weaknesses, you can manage and eliminate threats that might otherwise hurt your ability to move forward. — MindTools Website
Initially, I was skeptical if a business concept can or should be used for a creative endeavor like writing. Would it subdue my creativity if I tried to approach my writing with business concepts?
Upon further reflection, I realized that if I have any monetary goals for my writing then I should think of it as a creative endeavor which is also a business.
Chance favors the prepared mind — Louis Pasteur
There’s nothing wrong with making money as a creative person. The predatory practices of many business owners have given the word “business” a bad vibe to many creative and sensitive people. However, I don’t have to buy into the predatory philosophy. It’s my choice and I can choose to run my writing business with my rules and principles.
I feel like this is going to be an ongoing process where I’ll add to it as I gain more understanding. It’s going to take far more than a few hours or even an entire weekend.
I’m seeing it as a spiral where I start with basic self-reflection, create a strategy, implement it with real writing, gain better understand, update my SWOT board, and repeat the process until I am comfortable with the strategy. Even after that, it’s probably a good practice to repeat the SWOT analysis every year.
I use Trello for my Personal Journal (note: this is not an advertisement). So I created a board called Writer SWOT. The first four rows are for SWOT cards and the final two rows contain the specific list of what I want to write (that’s the list, I created in the previous post after refining my writer-archetype).
The next activity was to clarify my objective for the SWOT analysis. Had I done the SWOT analysis before creating the writing list then I would have used it to identify what I wanted to write. However, since I already have that list, I’m doing the SWOT to create a strategy to progress on the writing journey.
Before I begin to identify my strengths and weaknesses, I want to determine the experience, skills, knowledge, habits, and mindset that are needed to write in each of my topics of interest and use them as a reference to identify strengths and weaknesses.
This exercise is the topic of tomorrow’s post.
Thank you for reading. I hope you find my process helpful in your own journey as a writer!