How can I tell if what I’m writing is any good?

eudora welty

Dear Literary Ladies,
While in the midst of writing, how can you gauge if your work is any good? It’s so hard to be objective, and see the forest from the trees. Should I compare my writing with that of other writers I admire?

Since we must and do write each in our own way, we may during actual writing get more lasting instruction not from another’s work, whatever its blessings, however better it is than ours, but from our own poor scratched-over pages. For these we can hold up to life. That is, we are born with a mind and heart to hold each page up to and to ask: Is it valid?

Reading the work of other writers and in the whole, and our long thoughts in retrospect, can tell us we are able to know of fiction and at firsthand, but this is about reading.

The writer [herself] studies intensely how to do it while [she] is in the thick of doing it; then when the particular novel or story is done, [she] is likely to forget how. [She] does well to. Each work is new.

Eudora Welty, from the essay “Words into Fiction,” 1965

Eudora Welty at her desk

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