How do you handle tax season? Our Year of the Novel blogger, Caro, takes us through a very different kind of audit.

I hate doing my tax. I’ve tried to make it fun by dancing to the EOFS advert and nicknaming my accountant Rapunzel (because he spins receipts into gold, pretty much overnight), but the reality is, it’s awful.

I’ve only myself to blame. The reason it’s awful is because no matter how many times I make a New Financial Year resolution to be more efficient, my filing system is essentially a haphazard collection of post-it notes and invoices, mixed up with spare buttons, recipes for things I haven’t cooked and out-dated To Do lists, mostly unfinished. I keep it in a Penguin book tin (because one year something ate though the shoebox I was using) but it’s been so long since I actually filed anything in there, the lid was rusted shut this year.

So, in order to avoid tackling that little pile of horrors for a little longer, I decided to audit myself. Actually, to be more specific, I audited my writing.

Tallying up the number of words you’ve written in the last year is just as harrowing as adding up the number of dollars you’ve earned, especially when you start comparing “words I used then deleted” with “words I have saved”. I’ve also scattered those words over a handful of projects – and the result is none of the things I’m working on are where I hoped they’d be.

But I started reading some of the work, and found phrases and sections I fell in love with all over again – there’s nothing better than re-reading a section you’d forgotten you’d written to discover you really can write something worthwhile, after all.

And then I remembered the box of receipts and how that counts for something at tax time. I pulled out my writing book, full of plot maps and character descriptions and little drawings. Scraps of paper littered with phrases and ideas. The beginning of things I haven’t quite cashed in yet.

When you throw all that into the mix, my annual writing haul wasn’t as bad as I expected – and something about the process renewed my confidence and enthusiasm for what I’m working in. It was good to be realistic about what I need to do, and great to be re-evaluate my writing habits and priorities. But it was also good to take some time to acknowledge the things I’ve achieved this Financial Writing Year.

If you’ve got a few hours and an aversion to your finances, I’d highly recommend a self-audit – sadly, the government won’t send you a cheque when you’re complete, but the rewards are definitely worth it!

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