My Journal

Quality vs. Quantity

The movie Finding Forrester, so I’m told (I’ve never seen it), said, “Write your first draft with your heart.  Rewrite with your head.”  I’ve always expressed this sentiment, before I’d ever heard of this quote, with my own words, “Just write.  The first time around is just the rough draft.  Don’t worry about it being perfect.  They’ll be plenty of time for editing and revising later, believe me.”

If you want to publish, and even if you don’t, the end result you want to have is the best version of the story possible and one easy to read.  It should be at its fullest potential and as pleasing to the reader as it can be.  What’s your goal, after all?  To tell a wonderful story that will delight the reader.  At least, that should be the reason.

So when you sit down to write, what should you aim for?  Quality?  Well, yes, try to make it your best work.  But don’t worry too much.  Keep moving forward.  If you happen to re-read a sentence and think of a better way to put it, then great.  If not, keep going.  You can do that later.  Focus on quantity.  I don’t mean to suggest that 200 pages of junk can replace 100 pages of gold, but when you’re writing your first draft, just try to get from A to Z.  Finish it.  Then edit.

Another option, of course, when you get writer’s block, is to go back over your old work and edit it.  This does two things: makes your work better and may give you inspiration to chop through that writer’s block.

Quantity can never replace quality.  But don’t be too hard on yourself.  Know when to be exacting and when to just move on.  And when in doubt, get second opinions.  (“Hey, mom, does this sound stupid?”  Something like that.)

And finally, make it your best.  Because when it’s published, that’s it.  Don’t settle for ‘good enough’.  Reach as far as you can go.