effort / facebook / frustration / life / popularity / publication / speed skating / writing

Measuring Your World

Do you know when you’ve gotten better at writing?

I don’t.

Sure, if you’re published you could look at sale numbers, but that’s not he same thing as getting better. That’s getting more popular.

my skates

Anyway, three days a week I go to quad speed skate practice. I used to be one the slowest. Well, the coach doesn’t say slow. We line up fast-to-fastest.

Recently I got to move in the line to closer to the middle. The other night, a skater who used to pass me couldn’t.

I was so happy. Such a feeling–a year of three-days-a-week practice, and now I’m faster. I can feel it. Others can see it. I hit the curves and feel happy.

Next year I’ll compete in Nationals. I doubt I can beat women who’ve been skating for years, but it will be an experience. Over 40 and competing in Nationals!

Writing though…I write and write and write…am I better? Must be. Right?

How do you measure that? How can you see it?

And what do you do in life in which you can measure your progress?

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Measuring facebook numbers here.

17 thoughts on “Measuring Your World

  1. I think you get better when you feel yourself “growing into your voice”. I will read something I wrote a year ago and compare it to more recent work, and the recent work always sounds closer to the voice I hear inside my head when I think. When the voice in your head and the natural flow of your thoughts matches your writing exactly, you’ve achieved your full writing potential. The less forced your writing sounds (to YOU) the better you are. You just can’t beat yourself up when you aren’t pleased with your work because it derails your progress. I’m still trying to master that last thing.

  2. I don’t know that you can quantitatively measure whether or not you’re getting better at writing. There will always be edits. There will always be new tips and tricks to try. Congrats on moving up in skating! That’s awesome!

    • It is hard to measure. I heard Margaret Atwood talk about this. She was comparing her writing at 21 to her writing now. And she said something along the lines of was-her-writing-bad-at-21? Well, if wasn’t bad for being 21.

      Sp part of the question is about where you are in the writing journey.

  3. I was so excited to see this! You GO FOR IT. I’m standing up and cheering for you. I have friends in speed skating (we’re in artistic). I love roller sports because there are no limits – especially no age limits. Great posting. Let us know how you’re doing!

    • It’s fun to meet another skater. Most non-skaters I know have no idea what I’m talking about. Artistic is great too, I wish I could do some of those moves!

      Thanks for the cheers.

  4. I don’t think my writing progresses. I think it waxes and wanes like my mood disorder. On the other hand, I am always critical of things I wrote in the past. Too wordy, stiff, no voice. I know I can do better now. I would greatly benefit from a speed-skate line to give me feedback on how I’m doing with my writing. It would be such a great feeling to move up in the line, to pass people, to know my distance from the “really good ones”. Is it really possible to get worse, I mean on a trajectory, not just a mood, if you practice every day like you and I do? I mean, until we get Alzheimer’s? And maybe even not then?

    • The image of writing waxing and waning…yes, I like this. It does. Life does. So much of life is like that. Let’s hope we don’t get worse. I refuse to believe that is possible.

  5. For me, my measure of improvement is that it flows quicker and more easily when I write. I know that quicker doesn’t mean better in itself, but I just mean that I know I’m getting better at it when it’s less of a struggle. I think it reads more fluidly when it was written more easily if that makes sense.

  6. Maybe the key thing is this: although the velocity at which you skate is measurable, you didn’t actually have to measure anything in order to feel great about being faster. Someone you respect pointed out an improvement they noticed, and all of a sudden it was obvious to you, too. Instant well-being.

    About your writing, you’ve been listening (maybe) way too willingly to your own skepticism and fear and doubt, based on what may or may not be “real” difficulties. You just (maybe) need to find a mentor or two who’s willing to point out the obvious good, too.

    • Well, having someone pull me out of line and move me–someone who is a very good skater and who I respect a great deal–means a lot. I protested–“No! I can’t be here in line!”–but I went and held my own. What a great feeling. To be told I’d improved and not to prove that person wrong. Wahoo!

      But it is hard to find that in writing. Someone is, however, editing my novel, so we’ll see what happens when I get those notes back. Eeek.

  7. I believe that writing doesn’t only improve with practice, but with reading and experience. I find the more life experience I have the better it’s reflected in my writing, and I even articulate what I’m trying to get across in a more understandable and sincere way.
    Also, don’t forget how varied opinions on writing can be. “Good” writing is subjective… on way too many levels to measure yourself by. I don’t worry about how good my writing is while I’m writing, because it’s for me. As long as I like it, who gives a damn?! It’s the editing that screws with your self-confidence. I find that no matter how many edits I do I will never be satisfied with my work, I will never feel good enough. But, that’s the way the letters crumble, so my opinion? Just go with it, do what you can, and enjoy the ride. 🙂 Don’t worry too much about “good” there will always be people who enjoy your writing and there will always be those that dislike and criticize.

    • Oh, definitely. Thanks for the reminder because I forget. Good is subjective and we can’t please everyone. I’ve read books I thought were amazing, and then I’ve come across reviews of those books that were just vicious.

      And I agree about the life experience. I see it in my writing class. Some of the younger writers do seem to be missing a certain amount of depth or insight in their writing. I often have to tell them to go deeper, to expand.

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