Since I have been struggling for writing output this year due to a number of life challenges, I have been thinking a lot about judging what I do produce. The most common way to judge progress is to look at the word count, but this can be very misleading.
For example, if you take two hours to write 500 words, you might immediately assume this is not that great. But what if you take half-an-hour to write the same word count, yet have to redraft this five times? What if those words represent a departure to the plot? Or take the character out of the arc you originally imagined? You might spent hours on those 500 words only to discard them later.
This is where I started thinking about the issue of quality. How do you judge it? This is where the Amazing Ever-Changing Yardstick comes in. What is right for your story? Your market? How does it match the sort of work that is produced by the publishers you are aiming at?
The same piece of work can attract almost diametrically opposite reviews. If reviewer A (who hated your book) was the editor you subbed to, your manuscript is in the bin. If reviewer B (who loved it) was the editor who read it you are the next golden child.
Being a strong advocate of banging my head against brick walls, I tried sending work to one particular editor for years before I realized there was a reason I did not like anything that house published. There was just a complete miss-match there. No meeting of minds was ever going to happen.
I spent years going to critique groups before I realized that I really should not have listened to almost everything I was told. Anyone can have an opinion on your work – but is it right? Is it right for your work? It’s rare to find writers who really understand your story and ‘get’ where you are coming from. And after all –they are not the editor who could be buying it. One thing is for certain – anything that shuts you down creatively and stops you from getting your first draft down is BAD BAD BAD!
So what I am saying? I guess that in the end you need to be the judge of your own work – and to be extremely cautious about what criticism you seek out – and what you choose to act on. The creative impetus is king – let it drive you where it will.
How do you judge the quality of your work?