One aspect of being productive that I have always struggled with is being able to judge how well I am accomplishing a task. Clearly-defined expectations, regular check-ins, constructive critique, and praise (when earned) go a long way to help me setting my own goals accordingly, in line with whatever individual, group, or organization I’m working with or for.
I have recently been on an absolute writing spree, discussed more at length last night. I’m currently drawing up a fantasy story which I feel is engaging, and I think I am telling in an engaging way. The characters are interesting and the world quite different from our own, giving me a great deal of freedom to find a consistent voice for the whole piece. Right now it looks like it could easily grow to be my longest story arc series, particularly with the many directions the plot could turn.
For creative pursuits, one thing I struggle with is the concept of “doing well.” Am I reaching people? Am I reaching enough people? Are people actually liking my work? What can I do to get the word out farther, to more readers? These questions and more are why I worry about not having enough feedback when it comes to my work, though I readily admit I have no idea what it means to have “enough” feedback, or what that would look like.
I can look at the statistics and see which pages or stories are popular, and usually where a visitor came from (referred by my Twitter account, for example), but other than that I really have no insight into how my works are being received. My wife likes hearing me read some of my work to her, for which I am immensely grateful, and a few other literary friends are always interested in what I have coming out next, but I don’t have any real feedback from people who actually check in to my work.
I’m considering sending out an email blast to everyone I know socially (which is admittedly a much smaller number than two years ago), letting them know that a) I have a blog, b) I post a lot of fiction, and c) I would love to hear their comments; whether about style or subject matter, I’d love to have feedback at all.
For me the hard part is asking for feedback, or for new readership, without coming off as begging or pleading. While any increase in readership is a good increase in readership at this point, I don’t want to be an object of pity, someone supported just because I’m a family member or in a particular social circle.
Being completely honest, these are the kinds of thoughts, hangups, and speed-bumps that give me pause when writing. About half of the activity is “how do I tell this story?” while the other half is “oh man, nobody’s going to even read this, let alone like it.” It’s an anxiety-inducing process that I’m trying to move past, but change is difficult and often a long process.
I suppose at the end of this rambling I’d like to leave you with one thought, one goal – find an artist or creator whose works you appreciate, and let them know it. Send a tweet, email, or even postcoard letting them know that their work is meaningful and valuable, and that you look forward to their new content. I can tell you, both from my own perspective and that which I have heard from others, it means a whole heck of a lot.