How do you know if you’re really making any progress? This is why it’s important to have measurable goals. Some things aren’t as easy to measure though. Like whether or not your writing is improving. You can easily measure progress in terms of word count, but that doesn’t equal quality. All it means is that you are getting closer to a completed first draft. And that is a really important step. You have nothing to work with unless you create that first draft. Nothing to improve upon. So any words are better than no words even if all you can manage is a handful.
Some elements are harder to quantify. How do you know your dialogue writing is improving or your ability to write conflict? All you can do is measure against what you wrote before. You can also check it against your favourite authors, but that is dangerous. You don’t want to outright copy their style. You should want to be more than a mimic because your voice is every bit as important as those you idolize. And we often forget that they are far from perfect. Perfect shouldn’t be the goal for us either.
I think it’s hard to know if you’re really improving until you start making some sales. Beta readers can help, but a lot of them are afraid your feelings will be hurt, so they sugar coat or just say they like it even if it’s terrible. That doesn’t help. The readers that help you improve will say things you don’t want to hear. The best ones will say it in a nice way.
Progress also looks like chaos at the start. This is easily seen when getting a home organized. Sometimes you have to destroy what is in place to change the underlying structure before you can have things organized. I experienced this recently when changing out my shoe organizer in my hall closet. Previously, I had a horizontal shoe rack that was taking up the bulk of the floor space. I realized that with a vertical one instead, I could also have space to hide my recycle bin, which would clean up more than just my closet area. First though, it meant things had to get worse before they could get better. They did, and I’m working on the rest, but my recycle bin having a home that isn’t in my dining room feels great!
Writing is like that too. Especially when the editing stages come about. It often feels like it’s getting worse and moving toward hopelessness rather than ever being the way you know it can be. I often feel like the movie in my head is too wonderful to fully express. I expect there is a stage of painting a picture that is like this too. The point is that you have to keep trying to bring that vision about.
Progress makes profit. Profit doesn’t necessarily mean money. It could mean knowledge. It could mean the peace felt in a cleaner living space. Profit could even mean cookies.
Fitness: I did 20 squats and 10 lunges on the weekend. My legs hate me. I’m not where I’d like to be, but at least I didn’t overdo it to the point of having torn muscles. This is a reasonable level of sore post workout.
Shads: I’m making a lot of progress on this project. I’ve honed in on my concept and I’m working with it.
Home: I took some items to donation. I have several new whiteboards to keep track of things better. I also cleaned up my closet. I’ve been focusing on small things, so to me it feels like I’m progressing slowly, but I’m seeing the benefits. Some things have been just putting old hydro bills in with my tax folders and getting them off the floor. No, I’m not normally in the habit of keeping my papers all over the place, but I do create stacks on the floor when organizing to try and get everything together that goes together. I’m going to stop doing it that way though unless I have no idea what to do with something because I get busy and it lingers. It’s better to put things away as I come upon them instead, so it can’t get as messy. I also got my last kitchen drawer back together after about a year of it being apart. It was a fight the whole way, but it’s together. Hopefully I’ll find the right drawer knob for it soon as I can’t remember where I stored that for safekeeping. Isn’t that always the way?
Anyway, I’m going to go relax tonight as I brace for snowmageddon here in Ontario. I hope everyone stays safe!