I’m still buried under with that day job of mine, but thought I’d swing by for a quick share on my personal attempts to measure my writing progress.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t work with novels–they take too long to write–but it’s been useful for short stories.
First, in my attempts to be organized, I have a spreadsheet I keep of all markets I’ve submitted to and all stories I’ve submitted. (Markets on the left, stories across the top.)
I’ve color-coded the cells–red with an “x” for straight rejections, blue with a star symbol for personal rejections, and green for second round bumps and then either an x if it was ultimately a form or a star if it was a personal. And yellow for open submissions. So, with a glance at the wall I can see how a story is doing and if I’m getting better. (Sort of.)
I also calculate my percent personal rejections for each market and have the spreadsheet highlight each market where I’m getting a higher percentage of personals than what Duotrope or Grinder report. And for each story I calculate a percent of personal to form rejections.
Now, a few issues with this approach. I haven’t submitted all that many stories to all that many markets. So, one personal rejection for one story at a market and I look like I’m above their average. And some markets are very generous about giving out personals while others never give any.
My latest rejectomancy approach was to look at my first handful of stories and my latest batch and compare the percent of rejections that were either personal or second round bumps.
For the first six stories I wrote the percent is 19%. For the last six stories the percent is 50%. And if you look at quality of those personals, the more recent ones have been much better.
So, progress. And when you’re just getting started and it’s all about getting rejected you have to look for positive signs pretty much anywhere you can get them. (Why am I reminded of a turnip and a blood-sucking rabbit right now? Is that some book I read as a child or is my mind combining things in weird ways? Hmm.)
Anyway. The spreadsheet has worked for me. It’s also why those first six stories are in the re-write or retire folder at the moment even if it may make me miss one of my new year’s resolutions. I need to fix the whole cool idea vs. real characters experiencing real life issue with each of them.
But reworking those stories will have to wait, because I have a much less exciting spreadsheet to work on right now. Something about data requirements for a database query. Ugh. Good times.