Measuring Success as a Writer

by krstaten

Or: The Importance of Writers and Artists Supporting Other Writers and Artists

This is not an especially popular blog.

I know because I have 98 followers and I’m fairly certain at least 80 of them are spam blogs. I also know this because at least 85% of my page views come from friends and family who follow my links on Facebook or other social networking sites, and views and comments from people who just happen upon my blog are still fairly rare.

And so it’s hard for me to measure my success as a writer.

Which is a strange thing to say, because of course it’s silly to think your success as a writer can be measured in page views. Because after all, there is some terrible writing out there that has become wildly popular, and there is some absolutely brilliant writing that manages to slip completely under the radar. My success as a writer has nothing to do with how many people read what I write and everything to do with the quality of the writing and how well-received it is by the people who do read it. I consider my writing successful if it means something and resonates with someone and says what I feel needs to be said.

The problem is, without page views and comments, I have no way of knowing whether I’m doing that effectively.

The problem with art is that an artist really can’t be objective about their own creations. For example, I hate everything I’ve ever written two weeks after I write it. I’m absolutely serious on this–anything I write that I’m proud of enough to put on this blog, within a week or two I wish I’d never let it see the light of day. When I was younger, I had the opposite problem: I was so absurdly proud of everything I wrote that I felt everyone needed to see it, even though it was objectively terrible.

It’s just hard to neutrally judge something you’ve created when you’ve already spent so much time with it that at this point it just feels stale. Metaphors I’ve written are not going to feel fresh and surprisingly apt like I want them to–not to me, because I’ve read them so many times during the writing process to try to perfect their delivery that they feel as familiar and overdone as any cliche.

This is going to sound like I’m begging for comments, and hell, maybe I am–after all, I really don’t feel I can grow without feedback. But it’s a reminder to myself, as well: I firmly believe artists need other artists to grow. We need the opportunity to surround ourselves with people who know what we’re doing better than we do, and we need feedback, or at the very least interaction, in order to really grow and meet our potential as writers and artists. And I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not great about responding to other peoples’ writing, even if I do have something to say, for fear of coming across as weird or creepy or just unwelcome.

I’m probably wrong about this, because I’m wrong about a lot of things, but right now I feel like the only way we can really measure our own success and growth is through networking and interacting with other people who are doing the same things and going through the same artistic evolution that we are. Just something for myself to keep in mind.