Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Evaluate Your Progress on the Writing Path

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

The writer’s path is a journey of a lifetime—one fraught with discovery and discouragement. We can avoid some of its pitfalls if we define that path early on. Today, I want to share some insights into my writing journey and the markers I look for to help me stay at least in the vicinity of the path.

This time of year, with Christmas and New Year's still looming close behind, my thoughts turn backward. I use this time to evaluate the past year and prepare for the next one. I've given up New Year's Resolutions completely and find the freedom from those expectations (and failures) a major relief. 

But I have implemented something else instead. My husband and I spend some time looking back at our spiritual markers for the past year. We evaluate them individually, as a couple and as a family. I also look at them in regard to my past year as a writer.
This is particularly helpful, because staying on the writer's path is difficult because each of our paths are so unique and varied. In the past I've had trouble evaluating my progress because I was comparing my journey to someone else's. I’ve come up with some questions to help me process where I’ve been and where I’m headed. 

Questions to Get Me Started
  • What were some of my writing successes this past year? (Not necessarily the most lucrative, but the most rewarding)
  • What were some of my writing setbacks this past year?
  • What writing advice stands out in my mind because it seemed to have been aimed directly at me?
  • What brought me the most joy? (Writing related) 

As I map out these spiritual markers, the path God has had me on becomes quite clear. And, by knowing where I've been, it becomes clearer where to go next. 

I'd love to hear some of your answers to these questions. I'll be posting mine later in the comments section.

Don’t forget to join the conversation!




  1. One of my writing successes this year was completing a short story in an entirely new genre. I also finished the second book in a fantasy series. And in NaNoWriMo, I wrote 42,000 words in book 3. I also completely revised and updated my website.
    Among my setbacks were rejections from publishers and agents.
    Best writing advice has been with me for a few years: It won't get written if my butt isn't in the chair and my fingers on the keyboard.
    The most joy has come from working with other writers and seeing them get published, win contests, and improve in the craft. Equal with is spending time with my writer friends the ones who help me grow as a writer and a person..

  2. Edie,

    A great and thought-provoking post, as usual. Following are my answers to your questions.

    Sent a polished manuscript to beta readers
    Wrote 25 freelance articles (to date), all of which were published
    Published 3 non-fiction (art instruction) books
    Wrote nearly 900,000 words (blogs, articles, fiction, non-fiction) and still counting

    Inability to find direction with any story idea that was compelling enough or engaging enough to hold my attention from initial concept to completed rough draft. (Too many cool, new ideas; too little time!)
    Failed to reach one million words written

    A lot of writing advice seemed aimed directly at me. The most recent was this:

    You don't jump at the first agent that speaks your name. You don't self-publish with the first vanity press that shoots you spam. You don't hire the first editor who quotes you a cheap rate. You don't listen to all criticism from your writing group. In other words, be true to yourself. If the fit doesn't feel right, trust your instincts and walk away. You have to be able to look at yourself in the morning.

    The most important part of that quote is “If the fit doesn't feel right, trust your instincts and walk away.” When I read this paragraph, I was in the middle of sorting through crit partner comments.

    Developing new ideas

    I don't know if you would consider it joy or not, but getting through my weekly to-do list each week was a major source of satisfaction even when the larger projects weren't going well.

  3. Thanks Edie, for having us reflect like this as the calendar year comes to a close.

    Writing successes: (1) writing every day; today is day 200 (2) started and have maintained a blog; I post weekly on the weekend

    Setbacks and Writing Advice: learning that omniscient (old style) is out of date and that I have a lot to learn about POV. I'm a head-hopper. It took me three to months to finally read a blog that explained it in a way that I could say, "Oh, I get it now!" I went back and re-read other blogs I had bookmarked, and they finally all made sense. As an English teacher for over 25 years I was stuck in the four basic types of point of view. It was a major paradigm shift for me that I am still not sure I grasp. I want to be that fly on the wall that sees all, gets in all heads, and can be all places at once, but they say that won't work for a newbie for sure and that the old omniscient narrator is out-of-date anyway. Man, did I have a lot to learn and still do!

    Brought Me the Most Joy: when others tell me they enjoy reading my blog. I just wish they would write in the comment section. That is my Christmas wish! But hey, I've only been at this for six months, so the fact that people are even reading it, means a lot.