The final step in organizing your writing effort is evaluating your progress regularly. You may choose to do this monthly, quarterly, or annually. Just resolve to do it.
Review your intentions.
Take a look at the goals you set for yourself. Did you accomplish any of the short-term goals? How are you progressing on the long-term goals? The more specific your goals, the easier it is to measure success.
As an example, if you stated that you wanted to submit one article per week, this goal is easily measured by counting your submissions. At the monthly mark, you should have sent out four submissions. If you’re behind on your quota, you can make it up before the next evaluation date. Vague goals like “submitting as many articles as I can” or “writing as many chapters as possible” aren’t easily measured. You can excuse a low submission or word count by citing distractions or unforeseen circumstances. Writers of novels or nonfiction books will have different goals than article writers. If writing one hour a day does not work for your situation, set a word count goal for each day (suggested by Terry Whalin of Morgan James Publishing).
Revise the plan.
If you submitted one article every week for one year, you sent out 52 submissions. Technically, you reached your goal. However, if you got no acceptances, you probably need to make some changes. It’s time to examine your marketing techniques, your adherence to guidelines, and even your writing itself. It could be that your timing was just not right for some of your rejected pieces. Perhaps you are concentrating too much on quantity and not enough on quality. Go back to the market guide to look for a better match. Or—revise and send to the same publisher. Keep trying to different tacks until you find a process that works for you and your genre.
When you make your original plans and when you revise them, spend some time checking with other writers about their goals and methods. And don’t forget to pray as you evaluate and make new plans. In previous posts, I mentioned Mark Porter’s The Time of Your Life: How to Accomplish All That God Wants You to Do. I’d like to share an excerpt from the book now. Porter says there are four ways to receive word from God. He calls it the Compass of God’s Guidance.
- “North” is Neighbor’s Counsel, the input of godly Christians.
- “East” is Events & Circumstances, those God-incidences that occur from time to time.
- “South” is the Spirit’s Promptings.
- “West” is the Word of God, the Bible.
God uses each of these points to communicate with us as we seek God’s guidance, Porter says. Consider using this model in your evaluation.
Readers, you are welcome to comment on this post and share about your evaluation method (or whether you’ve ever thought about evaluating your efforts). If you receive this post by email, please click on the title of the post to go to my site. Scroll down to Leave a Reply and comment there.