If you’re writing and people other than your friends and family are reading, you’ll have the chance to try and measure your success by gauging public and critic reactions. If you’re still very much in the small time, I think it’s a lot harder to work out what you’re doing right and when you’re going horribly wrong.
Measuring my progress in writing is something I’m always wanting to do, if only to try and prove to myself I ain’t wasting my time entirely, but it’s something I find almost impossible. Obviously you can count the number of words you get down on the page, and that’s an achievement in itself, but it’s not very accurate. I can write thousands of words of web copy and articles in a day for example, but I wouldn’t say that any of it merits a pat on the back.
Instead I’ve tried looking at old stories and comparing them to newer ones, hoping to find evidence of improvement in the latter. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. I guess even if you spend a lot of time practising you’re always going to improve in some ways but there’s nothing as potent as a flash of inspiration for creating something memorable.
Oh well. Guess I’ll just be satisfied with doing my best eh?