(This posting originally appeared on The Melt-Ink Pot)
This week, I stumbled across a Web site that made me giggle: Merit Badges For Writers.* Yep, they’re basically electronic badges that you can download and post on your blog, your Facebook, or wherever you’d like. There aren’t a lot of them out there yet, but the ones they have are fun. I mean, don’t you think I need “Grammar Ninja” on my blog? And “Historical Fiction“? I am so there!
Sometimes, as a writer, it’s hard for me to tell whether I’m making any progress in furthering my writing abilities or not. I read a lot of advice, and have digested several books on writing technique, but I can’t always tell whether it’s having any impact on how I write, and if so, whether that impact is positive or negative. I think I’m making progress on “showing not telling,” and I’m struggling hard to resist the urge to head-hop. I’m making a conscious effort to use fewer dialogue tags (“he said,” “she asked,” etc.); I wrote a dialogue passage last week that didn’t contain a single one, yet it was always clear who was speaking, and the passage flowed naturally and easily. Shouldn’t something like that deserve at least a little recognition, if only just a good, loud “Attagirl!”?
There are other important milestones in a writer’s life, too, a lot of firsts: writing your first short story, your first novel, making your first submission to a critique group or a contest. Not to mention the big ticket items like querying agents or actually publishing something. I don’t know about anyone else, but there are times when I would just find it comforting to be able to see, visually, that I really am making forward progress. Wouldn’t a row of “merit badges” be a great way to remind yourself that your work is improving, and that the top of the mountain is getting nearer all the time?
I think I’m going to have to work on something like that. And yes, I know that it’s possible to collect all of the merit badges and still not reach the summit, but I’d still really like to look back and see the trail behind me, and know that I’ve overcome all of those obstacles. If I am mighty enough to do all of that, I’m mighty enough to keep pushing onward. Right?
How do other people track their writing achievements? Or do you? If not, do you think you should?
*Actually, they have Merit Badges For Readers as well. They’re having far too much fun.