At work, I talk about evaluation and evidence a lot:
- What are the benefits of this project?
- Can we find a way to measure this?
- How do we know it’s worked?
So when I decided to give writing a try, measuring success was one of the things I considered.
The original spur was that, on an impulse, I’d written and submitted a story for a thread on Londonist (see my Writing page if you’d like to read it). I enjoyed the process enormously, and it was published online. So I gave myself 3 months to write more short stories and see how I got on.
These were the draft metrics I came up with, and my progress against them at 3 months:
- Number of stories written: 13
- Number of story ideas generated: 36 (NB some of these are just phrases to worry at)
- Number of stories published online: 7 at end of period
- Number of opportunities entered: 12
- Money spent: £11 (opportunity cost not included!)
- Money earned: £0 (boo)
- Positive feedback via social media/other sources: lots, through likes, ratings, comments. It’s been very cheering.
- Writing-related Twitter follows: again, lots. However, I’ve followed lots of new writing-related people, so several follows may be related to that rather than my general awesomeness.
- Time spent: I have no idea, but it has been time well spent. I’ve taken the occasional day of annual leave to spend some time writing, and it’s lovely.
- Useful feedback gained: plenty! The most useful part was entering 8 Days of Ether, which was the equivalent of a crash course in flash fiction, and you can read about my experience here. Lots of us read, rated and commented on each other’s stories.
The metrics above were what I put in place at the beginning. At the end I also asked a friend, colleague and fellow-writer what she would suggest as metrics. Here are her suggestions, and my answers:
- Did you enjoy writing? Yes, although sometimes I felt tense when I was rushing for a deadline. Overall, though, loved the process.
- Were you happy with how the stories turned out? Yes – although slightly nervous about going back to some of the flash ones! (these were written in 24 hours or less).
- Did you get to write about the things that inspire you? Sometimes…partly because often I was writing to a theme, or I had time to choose an idea and work to it. Also, I didn’t want to tackle some massive themes because I don’t think I have the chops for it yet…which is a good argument to get better at it.
- Did you get positive feedback? I did!
I learnt so much during my 3 months.
- I like writing other things besides short stories (OK, I knew this already). I also wrote 4 blog posts, an overview piece for work, an event review, and a couple of short pieces during the 3 months. Indeed, starting the blog pretty much sealed the deal.
- I really hate waiting. Competitions where I might not hear anything for 2 months or more – they kill me. I’d rather get the pain over with quickly and move on.
- I need a routine (I’m still not sure how to solve this one).
- I have a long way to go, and a lot of unfinished business!
- I love writing.
So I’m afraid you may well be hearing more from me. Of course I have set myself new targets for the next 3 months…I shall update in November!