Monday, June 28, 2010

Writing Myth #3

Hey all. I'm back!
And I'm married! I'll post some pictures up when I get the chance, but for now, back to the writing board.

Writing Myth #3: It's all about quality and not about quantity.

This is one of those twisted arguments that cannot be rebuffed head on by simply stating the opposite. Writing is not all about quality and not quantity, but nor is it about quantity and not quality.

The real equation is this: You cannot achieve quality without quantity.

You cannot achieve QUALITY without QUANTITY.

It's not one verses the other. Quantity is a stepping stone to quality. This is why writers refer to first drafts, second drafts, fifth drafts, and why they say any writer seeking publication needs to revise, revise, revise.

It is possible to have quantity without quality, which is why I think a good rail against quantity is quite justified. Go ahead. Get it out of your lungs. I'll join you.

Ok, now that that's over with, just because quantity is sometimes seen without it's better half, (quality,) doesn't mean it's a bad thing. Many writers reach the first step without going on to the second.

My idea (remember, I'm not published yet...this is pieced together from others' advice who have been published) of steps to publication:

1. Quantity: the writer must practice his or her craft regardless of how much they keep failing at it. It doesn't matter if this writing never sees the light of day again. The important part is the experience and that the writer now has knowledge of what it truly means to put 50 thousand words (or more) together.

2. Quality: Take the quantity of dross that was just written, and trim it down. Add to it, revise it, make it quality. You need enough raw material to work with before you can refine it.

3. Quorum: Take your refined manuscript to other people and get their opinion. Ask them to help revise it where needed, or simply to give you their first impression. Ask for as much as they're willing to give you. You could even hire a professional editor if you wanted to, but I hear there are problems with that sometimes.
This step is where you get a feel for just how good of quality your writing is.
Then, when you've taken other people's opinions and suggestions into account and revised it further (or kept it the same), send it off to publishers and agents! Wahoo! (I'm really excited for when I get to this point if you couldn't tell.)
Or, if you don't like the traditional publishing model, self-publish or find a subsidy publisher/POD publisher.

4. Quandary: Pace the carpet and wait for e-mails and letters to pour in. Have some chocolate handy to cheer yourself up for when you receive a rejection slip. For every rejection notice you get, send out your work to two more agents or publishers. Or, for every rejection, write another thousand words on your NEXT work. That's right. Step one, quantity, never stops. Keep writing.

5. Quit your day job: Once you sign for a huge advance and your book becomes a bestseller, quit your job and write full time.

(Totally kidding about that last one. Please don't quit your job.)

Writing is like playing basketball. I could spend three hours staring at the basket and adjusting my position just right, then spring and launch the ball towards the hoop, saying that it's the quality of the shot that counts. If I did it that way, I'd get really sore and wouldn't develop the necessary hand-eye coordination nor the muscles needed to make a basket every time.

Or, I could just aim and shoot over and over and over again. I'm going to miss a lot, but the more I shoot, the more chances I have to make it. I increase my percentage with practice, not only because of the sheer number of shots, but because with each one, my aim and technique improves.

Don't spend a ton of time trying to get your writing done perfectly on the first draft. (Unless of course that works for you. For very few people it does.) Just write. Practice makes perfect.

Remember, both quantity and quality should go together. Don't just produce a bunch of stuff and call it good. But don't produce a little AMOUNT of stuff and call it good either. If it truly is good, then you should write more of it.


  1. congrats on the wedding! so happy for you.

    and great post, as well.


  2. Yay! Congrats on getting married. Can't wait to see the pictures.

    You make some great points in the post. I'm a big fan of practice, practice, practice. And I've been practicing for years :)

  3. Lol to number five! Thanks for explaining the whole quantity and quality thing. It makes more sense now, as well as where you are coming from on the other posts...

    Oh, and congrats on the marriage! Your wedding was so beautiful, as were you! I'm just sorry that I came in so late; I missed most of the ceremony.

  4. "Practice does not make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect."
    --Majic Johnson, Hall of Fame basketball player

  5. By the way, I'm Reesha's very proud father :oD