How’s it going? Evaluating progress

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.
  • 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!

The photo was taken at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester. If you haven’t been, do visit, it’s superb. @voiceofmosi

5 thoughts on “How’s it going? Evaluating progress

  1. Great to hear. I should do the same thing myself. At start of year I’d probably written one short story a year for a few years – now I’d struggle to count (maybe I should).

    Well done on your success and the productivity (and generally awesomeness).

    Sounds like we have a similar need for metrics in our day jobs. I’d probably use similar ones but really try to get metrics for time spent reading and reviewing others work and cross reference it to the productivity and success (minor I know) of my own work – I think they’re related.

    Ether was a great experience and very much like the course I did just beforehand (so you’re spot on). Also, I totally get the ‘not hearing anything for two months’. I think this has been a massive eye-opener for me too.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Weighing it up: the 3-month writing review | Bitsa

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