Five Ways to Know You Are Doing Good Work on Each Writing Session

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Hi SEers. John with you again today. It is no secret that most of us work in a solitary state when we are working on a story. It is great to have feedback on what we have written. Sadly, it is not always practical to get third-party opinions on all the directions or nuances pursued in your writing. We cannot run to a critic group or beta reader after each writing session. The importance of each session is that together they make up the whole of the work in progress. So, if sessions are going badly, the sum of the sessions will reflect the trouble. Today, I would like to offer a checklist that will give an idea of the quality of the work.

These points won’t take the place of beta readers or critical input. It is more to give the writer a gauge on whether the work is up to the quality standards on a short-term basis.  A side benefit to these points is a good feeling that comes from evaluating one’s writing after each session and satisfaction with its quality.

Five Ways to Know You Are Doing Good Work on Each Writing Session

1 The first way to know you are doing good work is to evaluate the satisfaction received from the session. If there is frustration and an overall feeling of dissatisfaction, you can be sure the work is not up to your standards. The reasons could be many, but the important part is that you are not happy with what you’ve done, which will show to your readers. Best to set aside what you have and review it another day.

2 The second way to know you are doing good work is the feeling that you don’t want to stop. We all know stopping will be necessary, but the desire to go on demonstrates an excitement in the work that will be infectious to the reader. You can believe if you stop writing reluctantly, what you have written will be good. Returning to the manuscript the next day has the potential of continuing that feeling for another session.

3 The third way to know is to get emotionally involved with the character situations you are creating. If you feel empathy for the character’s hard times, the possibility that your reader will have the same feeling is very high. Tears shed for a character’s sadness will invoke the kind of emotion with the probability of the reader shedding tears as well. An emotional writing session generally is a good session.

4 The fourth way to know is how quickly the writing time passes. If you are amazed by the time of day and have no idea where the time went, it is sure that what you have written is the best. Getting lost in the manuscript almost guarantees that the result will get the reader lost in it too.

5 The fifth way is to gauge how hard it is to meet your writing goal for the day. If you struggle to meet your plan, you can bet the writing will reflect a struggle as well. This one is perhaps the definitive symptom of a problem with one of the other four. It does provide a quantity reading on how well the session went. If the goal seemed difficult, then a close review of your writing is in order.

I hope understanding how writing sessions are going will help in the overall quality of your work. So let me know in the comments what you think about session evaluations and maybe some ways you have found to gauge your work quality.


80 thoughts on “Five Ways to Know You Are Doing Good Work on Each Writing Session

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  5. I think it is a good way to determine good writing…I know if I write a poem that just flows it works like that and I can see it in my work and by the responses I receive from readers.

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  6. Great points, John! With my current WIP, I have struggled with these points at times, but I am trekking through, knowing that I am emotionally invested and can go back and flush out the “issues” later. I will keep these in mind as I’m writing in the future. 🙂

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  7. I love these! Especially number three about being emotionally in tune with the characters. I was just discussing that the other day on a bootcamp training scene I wrote.

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  8. Pingback: Five Ways to Know You Are Doing Good Work on Each Writing Session – A roller coaster ride of adoption and much more

  9. A great list of things that indicate how your writing is going, John:) The bulk of them seem emotionally based and that’s how I gauge my writing. If I can think or say a yes with perhaps a small fist pump, it’s gone well. We do have to be involved in our characters and feel along with them as well as get excited about that sentence that turned out just right. If we don’t, how can we expect others to? Loved this post and insight!

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  10. Great points. It’s a tough call for me sometimes. Occasionally, when I’m struggling, I know I have to write crap for a day or two to get the words on paper so that I can see the problem and rewrite the scenes later. But if the feeling lasts, I’ve screwed up somewhere and have to rethink where the story’s going.

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  11. Excellent signs of a productive session, John. And number 5 was an interesting piece of advice regarding how to evaluate what’s not working. I find that writing is first draft a rollercoaster of uphills and downhills. Those steep climbs are worth some thought. 😀

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    • Makes perfect sense to me and it’s nice to see these set out so clearly. Those days when it flows smoothly, and I’m still thinking about my characters when I fall asleep, are days when all feels right with the world. The days when it feels like wading through cold treacle are frustrating and make me miserable enough to walk away and do something else until I’ve let the sub-conscious wrestle with the problem and I’m keen to get back to writing.

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  12. Like most writers, I’ve experienced all of these. I particularly love when I’m in a zone, connected to the character(s) and words flow nonstop. I had one of those writing days earlier in the week when time flew by and I didn’t want to stop writing. The excitement from that session has me anxious to get back to my WIP again.
    Great points and great post, John!

    Liked by 6 people

  13. Great points, John! My normal writing sessions are often filled with doubt, criticism and questions about my ability. Basically, I’m a mess. That said, the next day, when I re-read what I wrote the day before, I often feel good about it. What a rollercoaster ride!

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  15. Great points, John. A reader is much like a mirror image of the writer. If we struggle with and overwork a section, there’s a good chance the reader will feel it and share the frustration. Your five points are on target! Thank you for reminding us and underscoring the challenges.

    Liked by 5 people

  16. These are great points, John, and I agree with them all. There are times when I’ve forced myself to write just for the sake of achieving a daily word count. Those times never produce good writing. I’ve also later read things I’ve written and come to tears – not because of frustration, but satisfaction over something I’m proud of having written.

    Terrific post today.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Thank you, Joan. ONe time I was reading from one of my books to an audience. I got choked up with pride and said aloud, “I wonder who wrote that.” I did get a laugh which helped the situation. Thanks, Joan. Lets hope we have more of those kinds of situations.Thank you for sharing, 😁

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  17. I’ve cried because I’ve been moved by the plight of my characters, and I’ve cried because I’ve been frustrated by my plight in the words not coming. Completely opposite ends of the spectrum. You raised great points to look for, John. Thanks.

    Liked by 7 people

  18. I’ve seen where the struggle and/or lack of enthusiasm shows through in the final book. One particular short story I read stands out as the perfect illustration of these points. If I’m not happy, I usually do a total rewrite of that section at the first editing stage. Good points, John 🙂

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