How Does a Writer Measure Progress?

Every now and then I look back on the Unmentionables that are my first drafts. I see the path of my writing and, though it has sloped a little way up the hill of mastering the craft, I see I have come a long way.

As I thought about this more, I wondered. So, if I have come “far”, how does a writer measure that exactly? Better yet, How do I, as a writer, measure progress?

The answer for you could be simple. It could be that you now have 30,000 words, and you had 5,000 a year ago. It could be that your vocabulary has grown tremendously, that your scenes of harrowing danger and swashbuckling duels are now believable, or that your love scenes are now devoid of most of their cheesiness.

I believe it is a smattering collection of these things. I see that my writing is cleaner. I see that I don’t use that that often, (pun intended). My words are more diverse and the dialogue is smoother.  However, I am at a loss. I know writers learn by doing. They learn by mastering the craft in order to abide by the laws and break them at their will.

But, How do you measure the progress of your writing?

Keep Writing,



5 thoughts on “How Does a Writer Measure Progress?

  1. lemwriting

    I guess I’d say all of the above. I can’t just freewrite and do a word count without honing my craft and REwriting.

    1. Iemwriting, thanks for the follow and the comment!

      I agree honing is essential to the progressing writer. Although, I find I need to simply go with an idea for a while, without editing, in order to see if it is worthwhile. Sometimes, this takes 200 words. Other times, 10,000 words. Not that I purposefully write poorly, but I try not to think about anything but the dream of a story that is formulating in my mind. But, to each his own. Writing is certainly not science.

      Keep writing.


  2. Julie Catherine

    I wanted to go with #1, #2 and #5 – but since I could only choose one of those, I picked the last one. However that’s probably because I’m in the ‘re-write’ stage, where I’m tearing apart and sewing back together; strengthening my characters and plotlines, and turning over words and phrasing ….

    When I wrote the first draft of my novel, I just wrote, not paying attention to anything but the write – I wrote, “bare bones” to an outline, so am now fleshing out the story, as well.

    I think our progress is determined by what stage of our writing we are at. In the beginning we’re simply concerned with getting our story out; writing our thoughts, and getting the word count in. Then we really get to work on developing the theme, characters, plot and sub-plots. After that, we progress to the fine-tuning; this is where we concentrate the most on honing our craft; dialogue, sentence structure, word and phrasing choices, making it all believable – I do think that is where our ‘maturing’ takes place – at least, for me it does.

    Interesting and thought-provoking post, Bob, I really enjoyed it. It was interesting to see the results of the poll … so far, everyone has chosen a different response – and no has has chosen “the amount of pieces you’ve completed” … lol. 🙂

  3. Wow Julie. Sounds like you have your own blog post here! I wish I could reblog it. However, I’ll take it in the comments section. Seriously, the note about progress being determined by where you are in the writing journey could be fleshed out. It’s great. I appreciate the comment, as always.

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