Quantity Vs Quality

Quantity Vs Quality

In wanting to feel part of a writing community, I did something to myself which I now realise I need to re-adjust. It’s to do with my own writing, and a struggle between quantity versus quality. One of them, I can do aplenty, the other is not necessarily as easy for me.

I recently wrote of feeling pinned down by the changes in a writing group I attend in Second Life, where that group now asks for a target wordcount goal for the month. I rebelled at that point, because I know that for any novel writing project, quantity is not a problem, in fact I can write at 10,000 – 12,000 words per day when I get going. However, at this time of the year, I didn’t want to “get going”, not at all.

My initial reaction was to not turn up to the group that first of the month, thus limiting my own need to come up with a target just because somebody else wanted it. It was an ostrich head in the sand moment, of course. Because I still feel a link with that writing group, and their support, and eventually I did turn up.

Last week I was pinned down to a month word-count target. At a push, I suggested 10,000 words for blog posts, as that is what I’m concentrating on at this moment. 10,000 is a frequently spoken target for many, and when questioned by the moderator of the group, it just pinged into my head. A week in, I have posted roughly 2000 words across two blogs, and have another 1000 sitting in draft format, so in essence it looks do-able, and possibly even too easy.

However, Barb Sawyer makes a point where she says -

“Everyone has become a writer, thanks to computers. Often not by choice. Frequently not by training.

“Many people have never been taught how to write with the skill, speed and grace required for the staggering amount of writing they are expected to do”.

Like many, I am of the computer generation. At the age of forty-something (er-hmmm) I have worked on computers for most of my own career life, in fact I worked in I.T. supporting them. Writing documents was my life, and detailed technical documents at that, with long detailed emails to make sure my directions to staff were clear enough to not be mis-interpreted across inter-countries and local desktops. Writing in that way had its benefits, however one of the biggest – my own speed at touch typing  (which is much faster than my handwriting or speed of thought often-enough) – that is also one of the biggest areas for improvement that I possess.

I can write – long. Very long. Very, very long. Wordcounts for me are not the right thing – give me a target, and I could easily create a 10,000 word blog post over the course of a day, and be done with it.

As for quality, now that’s a completely different matter.

For a while now, I’ve been trying to coach myself into providing shorter blog posts, not longer. Trying to provide more factual, rather than opinion pieces. I know I’ve failed on many counts, but that is my personal target – to learn how to write more succinctly, but without losing the voice of the author within.

Now, with this realisation, I have to rework that group target of mine. I probably will meet the 10,000 word count target, but personally – I want to forget about that, and work on creating some shorter posts also. Plus I have some behind the scenes writing work to get on with – some research for my upcoming novel, and the rewrite of an e-book post as promised on this blog.

Quantity vs Quality does not necessarily imply a contradiction in principles. My own goal must be to provide 10,000 words of quality posts. Quantity AND Quality. Now, at the moment I am at risk of having to provide more posts of a shorter length – because I naturally could do it more easily with longer posts to accomplish the word count target. But providing shorter posts means providing MORE posts – and that does imply something – because blog posts, like any other writing project, take time and research behind the scenes.

My targets, therefore, create the need for even more work for me. Rather than three or so blog posts per week, I now have to engineer several more, if I want to meet that wordcount target. And that does jeopardise my other writing projects. So I will have to manage my own goals efficiently, and monitor the state of play, and at a push – throw out the group-qualified wordcount target if needbe, and hold my head up high as being once again a bit of a rebel. Nevermind, there are a lot of us as writers, don’t you agree?

And adjusting our own goals to improve our ownership of how we write, and how to improve upon our writing, now that’s another worthwhile thing also.

Now, that was another 808 words onto the total, and perhaps too longwinded also.

Image Credit : Photo by santacrewsgirl on Flickr (creative commons license)

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This post was written by:

Michelle - who has written 262 posts on Juiced On Writing.

Michelle Thompson is building a career in both non-fiction and fiction writing. She's blogged for several years, and has previously written for arts, hobby and blogging themed magazines and websites. Her current work involves writing for some group blogs, pursuing a Second Life, and freelancing for some Second Life magazines. In fiction, Michelle is currently working on her second and third novels.

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2 Responses to “Quantity Vs Quality”

  1. Barb Sawyers Says:

    I’m glad my post got you thinking about quality. I am horrified your writing group would insist on a word count. Quality should trump quantity every time.

    My early experience was in print journalism, where I learned to write as tightly as possible. If I didn’t, an editor would tell me to cut my word-length in half. The result was already better because my thinking was more focused and my words better chosen.


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