Are You Doing A Writing Post-Mortem?: Steven Savage
As a Project Manager one of the big things for every project is a post-mortem. Maybe you call it a post-launch discussion, project analysis, or something else if you want a less morbid title. Whatever name you use, almost every PM, like myself, spends some time after a project asking “what did we learn from all of this?”
Having recently launched my latest book, “Focused Fandom: Cosplay, Costuming, and Careers“, I’m conducting a post-mortem on the book and book launch. I wanted to share a few insights about the value of such an activity:
It acknowledges completion: Book is out, fine, done, etc. A good post-mortem gives you closure.
It lets you shift mindsets: Now that the project is done, a post-mortem lets you shift to a learning mindset. It might even be more relaxing than those last few days/weeks of publishing.
It encourages you to think of what went right and wrong–at the best time: When the flurry of publishing is over, when the last PDF is uploaded, it’s time to encourage yourself to learn from the experience. A distinct post-mortem lets you do that, and do it in a time where you’re probably saner (or at least burnt out enough to be calm).
It encourages a technical approach: Sitting back and asking what went right and wrong, analyzing it, etc. helps you improve. It might seem bit uncreative to some, but to me it’s very inspiring – by taking apart what I did technically, I see whole new possibilities or things that went well.
It helps you learn: Setting aside time to look back over the creation process of your book allows the lessons learned to work their way into your mind more easily. You probably learned a lot from the writing, but in the hectic-craziness of creation, you don’t always know what you learned.
It prepares you for the next step: There’s always another book coming, more marketing, etc. Having shifted perspectives and learned your lessons, you’re ready for the next challenge.
Be it a book or a complex piece of software, a good post-mortem is a great way to learn from your recent activities. I just wish there was a less morbid, equally popular name for it…
Steven Savage, self-described “professional geek”, is the main blogger of the Fan To Pro blog, writer (Fan To Pro, and Convention Career Connection), runs a newsletter on geeky trends, and is the mind behind the popular Seventh Sanctum site. You can find out more about him at his web site, or contact him at: