Monday, October 26, 2015

Self-Assessment For Writers

I talk a lot about memories and writing stories based on your memories, but today I'd like to have you look at a different kind of memory. 

I'd like you to look back through the years and assess yourself as a writer. What kind of a writer were you last year? Five years ago? Ten years ago? Go even father back if possible. 

Do you write today exactly as you did many years ago? If you answer yes, be concerned. It says you haven't grown as a writer which should be a goal every writer has. An athlete gets better with practice and so should we as writers. 

If you have files filled with stories you've written over a long period, take some time and look at the ones written several years ago. Are you proud of that writing? Some of you will be but others may cringe a bit. When I read stories I wrote many years ago, I wish I could spirit myself back and write them again with what I know now. But that's not going to happen so the best I can do is to keep improving as a writer each and every year. 

Sometimes artists paint according to their mood or what is going on in their life. Years ago, we purchased an oil painting that my husband fell in love with. Quite contemporary or abstract and done in varying shades of green with dabs of blue. A few years later, we were invited to a showing the painter had at a gallery. We went, eager to see his latest work. What a shock it was to find every single painting done in somber, dark shades with angry lines slashed across the canvas. I remember turning to Ken and saying, "This guy is obviously having some problems." 

Writers can be much the same. When we're happy, it's easier to write happy stories. When we're sad or angry, that comes out in what we write, too. It's not only the mood of your writing that I'm asking you to look at today but the quality of what you wrote then vs now. 

More than likely, you'll be more proud of the writing you do today than what you wrote ten years ago. If that's the case, pat yourself on the back. If you see no difference in the quality of your writing over the years, then maybe you need to consider ways to grow as a writer. 

Self-assessment works well if you're honest. You don't have to tell anyone what you discovered. That's between you and yourself. Make a list of the areas in which you want to improve. Work on them a little at a time. Cliched as it might be, that old Rome wasn't built in a day. works well here.


  1. Thank you for this Nancy. I feel that my writing has improved by practice. I think I needed to hear this today.

  2. Thanks for your comment, Kimberly. I love to hear from readers.

  3. Funny thing is I used to write angst filled poetry during college. I admired Plath, Bukowski, Whitman, Robert Service Rod Mckuen back in those days. Then I spent 30 years in business and met my husband who tries making sure I'm happy. The poems have suffered for it but my prose is getting better daily.

    1. Definitely shows growth and that's always a good thing!