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,



The Healthy Writer

I walked through the doors of the local Tim Horton’s to meet my friend Josh for a night of writing bliss. Before I even sat down, or even said a word, he glanced up at me then looking taken aback.

“You got sleep last night didn’t you?” He asked. I nodded affirmatively.

Probably not the appropriate amount of sleep

I moved three weeks ago. My daughters were not sleeping (and still aren’t) for a variety of reasons, and I was spent on house projects, and lack of sleep. Through all of this I barely wrote. I ate terrible food, (insert your fast food kryptonite here) did not exercise (I was sanding wood floors and redoing my kitchen, however) and slept little.

Which brings me back to Josh’s comment at the beginning of the post. That night I wrote well. I put in eight hundred words on my novel, and when I reviewed them the next day they were better than I expected. This made me stop and think.

What would happen to my writing if I slept well all of the time? What would happen if I was a healthy writer?

I am not a health nut. I am not a person who obsesses over portion sizes and calories. But I can tell the difference in my body when I eat junk for a while and when I eat fresh produce and drink the proper amount of water. I don’t have caffeine head aches. I don’t have an upset stomach.

What would happen to my writing if I ate well all of the time? How would that impact my writing?

an Apple a day…

A month ago I ran a 5K race. It was very satisfying. I believe that the struggle of a sport or 5K builds motivation in other areas of life. Also, running, while sounding torturous, can be fun. It also gives me time to collect my thoughts and not be distracted, providing a great opportunity to mull over a particular part of my story.

What would happen to my writing if I exercised regularly?

These three things are not imperative to the writer. But, I believe being healthy may help me be a better writer. The master sleuth lived on opium and liquor, and the occasional embalming fluid. I wonder how he would have functioned had he ate fresh vegetables and got the proper amount of sleep?