A quick note about commenting: If you click the little number in the talk-balloon button at the top right of this entry, you can comment very easily on what you see here. We’d love to see some comments begin to pour in as that will help us grow our community!
This morning, an interesting article was posted on Write For Your Life, the writing blog. The post essentially argues that quality is most important when writing rather than quantity. You can read the article at this link for yourself, but I have some thoughts and opinions on this matter.
Basically, the author of this post thinks that quality is more important when practicing your writing and I think that quantity is more important. Part of my opinion is informed by the fact that I am heavily invested in National Novel Writing Month, which encourages quantity when writing. Because I’ve done a lot of my writing in that forum, it’s been ingrained in me that writing as much as you can is important so that you can later go back and trim the fat, so to speak. You have to have a lot to work with before you can actually work with it.
The author of the post says that he believes quality is most important specifically when practicing your writing. This implies, I think, that you have to get things right on your first try. That’s simply not possible. In my Theories of Composing course, we’ve been discussing the idea that some theorists have that when you sit down to write, you will write your final draft immediately. I don’t subscribe to that school of thought. I’m a big believer in “shitty first drafts,” as Anne Lamott might say. You have to write badly before you can write well. And oftentimes, that bad writing that you produce is produced in large quantities.
But that’s a good thing! Because then you can retrace your steps, edit the bad writing that you’ve produced, and make it into something of quality. To do that, though, you have to write in quantity. You might throw away a lot of what you produced, but you’ll be throwing away the bad parts and you’ll have enough that you’re able to throw bad parts away. The author of this Write for Your Life post says that “the bits inbetween periods of writing” is what really matters because that’s when you’re perfecting what you’ve written. But I would argue that you can’t get to that point without first writing in quantity.
What do you think? Is quality or quantity most important when writing? Leave your opinion in the comments!
— Jet Fuel Editor, Mary Egan