Piece completed. Sent. Saved. Stored.
On to the next. Right?
Wowsers! Hold it right there, just one moment. Slow down. Don’t just dump it into your saved documents right away and be done with it just like that … jeesh!
Ask yourself this: Just how satisfied are you with your piece, article, or draft after you’re done with it? It’s now time to reflect and evaluate.
Are you observing your work after every project? Are you taking notes? Are you taking into account the flaws and holes in your game?
These are all crucial factors on how you can improve as a writer, and I’m going to explain why you should always rate your own work after completion—a week, maybe two weeks later; basically, whenever you’ve had solid feedback from a mentor or you’ve pinpointed things you can touch on better next time.
As we all know, progression is pretty much the “golden ticket” to becoming a successful, more established writer.
We all want to reach our maximum potential, and that requires a high level of care, focus, attention, and observation.
After I’m satisfied for the piece to be sent along to publications, I still always read over my piece, again and again; even after it’s been approved and published, I’ll find things I could have done better—that’s when I begin to take notes and rate my performance levels.
You’re probably wondering, “Well, why the hell would he send over a piece that’s not absolutely perfect in the first place?! Then he wouldn’t need to rate and improve on his work … ever. What a dummy.”
Well, see, that’s the thing; you’re not going to be J.K. Rowling right from day one. It’s a gradual learning process.
“Dang it, I should have touched on that paragraph a tad more,” I’d often think to myself.
“Hum, this part could have used more research and elaboration.”
“Argh, another short paragraph would have wrapped this up just perfectly.”
Hey, that’s fine, though. It’s all part of the education moving forward. I look back on some of my older work from when I began as a writer and I compare it to pieces I’ve done quite recently, and I’ve noticed a vast improvement in quality.
I’ve been learning from my previous mistakes by taking notes, righting the wrongs, and rating my work after every piece of writing.
I now know what I can do better from retracting back to older work, notes, and ratings by gradually progressing, learning, and improving for the next piece. Slowly but surely. Little by little.
I’ll always ask myself, “Can I do better next time?”
As Professor Klump once famously said, “Yes I can … yes, I can.”
There’s no greater feeling for a writer than seeing their work published.
You’re buzzing, aren’t you? On cloud 9! Of course, you are. Good job. But just because an editor was happy to publish your piece doesn’t mean you can’t keep improving.
Observe and take note of any flaws, pencil them down in a document or journal, write a short description of your performance, and save it. After all that, give yourself a nice little mark out of 10.
Take the positives from it rather than beating yourself up about what you could have done better.
Get over it! Move on. You’ll do better next time. Learn.
Personally, if I’m extremely happy with a piece I’ve written, I don’t give myself any more than a score of 8/10.
I’m not the full package (just yet). But I strive to be. This is why it’s important to keep track of performance levels. There’s always something to build on.
Rate every piece. Don’t be overly generous, but then again, don’t put yourself down too much, either. Be very reasonable. Be confident, but not arrogant.
Stay humble and soak up as much information as you can along the way.
A 6.9/10 score can become a 7/10. That’s still an improvement. That’s still progress.
When you’ve been published by The New York Times or you’ve managed to create the best selling novel; only then can you creep closer to that anticipated 10 mark.
Even then, be proud enough to never give yourself a solid 10; that way, you’re always kept on your tippy-toes.
Ask your followers or a trusted mentor to rate your work and give you some short feedback.
It may be a good idea to hear the opinion of others; respectful people, other writers, authors, mentors, or bloggers. Seek the opinion of people who will give you an honest evaluation and assessment of your writing.
Ask them nicely to rate your work and then thank them for doing so.
Return the favor if they seek any advice from you—this way, you can strike up a working relationship in the future to help one another out.
Note: By “people,” I don’t mean Billy No Mates who lurks around in comment sections who’s never read or written a word in their life and doesn’t know their arse from their elbow.
Internet trolls. Yeah, them! The ones who will be delighted to put you down with the drop of a hat. The ones who will be eager to sink their teeth in at the first scent of blood.
Pretty sad, eh? They need a hug. Too bad. Block ‘em right away.
So, to recap, compare your scores—and beside your own, you can edit in their evaluation, assessment, and rating.
It’s always crucial to get other people’s opinions so you’ll have a second, and third opinion from other people who are also skilled in the same field as you.
Rate all of your writing. At the top of each piece, give it a mark out of 10 once you’ve managed to pinpoint where you could improve.
Ask other respected writers, bloggers, mentors, and followers to give their assessment, if possible. And always ignore irrelevant comments by idiot internet trolls.
Improve by the project. That may mean doing more research, taking more care in your structure, touching on and emphasizing a topic better, or wrapping up the piece more resolutely by sharpening sentences, paragraphs, or phrases.
Learn from previous mistakes and become a better writer.
Rating is educating.
Michael Bradley is an entrepreneurial writer currently based in Ireland who lends his services to various brands, SEO agencies, and magazines through his own website: www.freelancemichael.com, or directly through his personal email: [email protected]. When he isn't attending to his clients, Michael is a passionate Liverpool FC supporter and his dream is to one day see Liverpool win the Premier League. Follow him on LinkedIn and Twitter.