Quality vs. Quantity Writing: Why I Refuse to Rush My Novel (#AuthorToolBoxBlogHop)

I’m always in awe when I finish reading a good book. Even more so when it’s a debut novel written by a brand new author. It’s not just because their characters have managed to enchant me, or because the writer has reduced me to tears at some point throughout the book, or because their novel has generally moved me in ways only a great story can. (Although, yes, all of that is certainly part of it.)

I’m also in awe because the author has actually done it. They finished their book! They sat down one day with the seed of a story in mind, and actually saw the whole thing through to the end—however long it took them. That alone is hella impressive and deserves major kudos.

As an author, I know very well the kind of energy, dedication, courage and TIME it takes to write a good manuscript. I’m living it now as we speak.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO WRITE A NOVEL?

It’s a big question a lot of writers face when starting their first manuscript.

The answer: However long it takes! It really all comes down to Quality vs. Quantity.

Quantity writing is useful for plotting out your story. Outlining, first drafts, second drafts, and by God, sometimes even third drafts. It’s trying to get as many words down on paper without concerning yourself too much about grammar, style, rhythm or syntax.

But Quality writing is for the true thing. The real deal. It’s for that enticing, memorable, polished manuscript that will have agents and publishers calling you back. It’s the time and effort you put into crafting the perfect sentence—thousands of them—sentences that makes you scream out, “YES! NAILED IT!”  It’s the secret ingredient that will elevate your writing to a whole new level, making all the difference between an okay manuscript and an exceptional one.

QUALITY TAKES TIME

I started writing my novel almost nine years ago. Yes. Nine. And I’m not finished yet. In fact, I still have a ways to go before it’s ready for publishing. Honest to God, if I had a dollar for every time someone asked me, “How’s the book coming along?”, I’d be filthy rich and wouldn’t need to ever finish writing it.

I’ll admit, there was a time when that question made me feel incredibly insecure as a writer. It used to paralyze me with enough fear and doubt that it nearly halted my project altogether. Was I a fraud? Was I a terrible writer? One, two, three years in and what did I have to show for my efforts? What was so wrong with me that I couldn’t seem to finish one measly fricking manuscript?

Well, it took some major, deep-down digging to finally find my answer to that. And here it is:

THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH ME. It just turns out that I have very serious aspirations for my book. I have a distinct vision for it. I know exactly how I want the story to look, sound, and feel. I have standards. High ones. And until my novel meets my expectations, it will never see the light of day. 

If I had submitted my manuscript three or four years ago when I could have, it would’ve probably been a disaster. Instead of rushing it to publishers like most people would have, I took the time to honestly evaluate my work, and it wasn’t ready. There were some troubling plot holes. Some characters still needed development, and a few needed to be killed off.

But above all, my writing just wasn’t there yet.

I strive for Quality Writing. Once I realized this, I was able to stop looking at my novel as something that needed to be finished before I could be proud of it. I let go of this idea in my head that being a successful writer means pounding out new books every year. Instead, I’ve dedicated myself to refining my writing skills, finding my “voice” as an author, and perfecting the crap out of it.

All of that takes time.

Time which I think a lot of budding writers often make the mistake of ignoring. It can be really tempting to rush through those first few manuscripts. You have so many brilliant ideas, you’re excited to get them all down on paper, and hey, you just read an article on How To Write 5000 Words Per Day. It can’t be that hard!

And partly, you’re right. It’s totally possible to write that many words in a day. I’ve done it. I’ve seen others do it.

But is it quality writing? Chances are, it’s not. Sure, you may have come up with a few fabulous sentences, but in the end you know most of it will need to be scraped into the editing bin.

Just because you’ve reached 120,000 words doesn’t mean your work is finished.

Don’t forget Quality. Stop feeling like you have something to prove by rushing through your work. Nurture that story of yours. Make that baby something you can be proud of. Give it all the time it needs—however long it takes—to truly meet your vision, expectation and standards, because at the end of the day, that’s what really matters.

I wrote this post as part of the monthly #AuthorToolboxBlogHop. To continue hopping through to other great blogs (and I highly recommend you do) or to join as  a fellow writer,  click here.

 

30 thoughts on “Quality vs. Quantity Writing: Why I Refuse to Rush My Novel (#AuthorToolBoxBlogHop)

  1. Elizabeth Mueller says:

    I agree with you. I don’t like reading books that have a rushed feel to it, but a quality book doesn’t need to take years and years to write, either. My first book ever took me 8. I feel a good book can be inspired and written under one week if circumstances are right for the writer. Deadlines can have a harried effect on a person’s mind. Maybe I should be a self-published writer instead…

    Thank you for visiting my blog!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Elizabeth Mueller says:

      * I also want to say that even if I can write a book under one month doesn’t mean I’ll publish it like that. The quality can come with careful reviewing and editing as well as being open-minded to others’ critiques along with pondering and praying and more reviewing. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Brigitte Kirady says:

        Yes, I agree with that entirely. I don’t mean to say a book needs to take years to polish. I only mean to say that a book CAN take years, if that’s how long it takes for it to meet the author’s expectations. Really, as long as the writer takes the time to properly review, edit, and make sure the quality is there, however long that takes; a week, a month, a year, a decade. I think writers simply need to know there’s no hard limit for how long a novel should take to write – especially that first one. I sincerely hope my next book won’t take me 9-10 years! I expect once I’ve figured out the ins and outs of plotting, outlining, drafting, writing, editing (etc) for this novel, I should be able to do it faster the next time. In theory. Hopefully. LOL

        Like

  2. Victoria Marie Lees says:

    Quality always makes for a better read, Brigitte. Make the story writing all it can be before it goes out into the world. It’s taking me forever to finish my memoir about attending college as a mother of five because I want it to be all it can be. All the luck with your work in progress.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Iola says:

    As a reader, reviewer, and freelance editor, I always appreciate those writers who have decided to choose quality and pursue excellence. It makes for a better read – and it actually makes editing easier as well, because it’s more about polishing than attempting to correct fundamental flaws.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. raimeygallant says:

    Hey! I was about to share your post on Facebook when I realized there’s something that might need adjusting with your blog. Currently, no one can link to anything but brigittekirady.com, which is okay, but in the long run, you might want to be able to direct people to exact posts. For instance, it’s hard for me to send users directly to this post, because if I share it on Facebook, you may have added another blog post, and so folks will have to scroll down to find the post I referred to, and folks might give up looking. Check out my website, how each post and page has something after raimeygallant.com like raimeygallant.com/specificpostnamehere.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Brigitte Kirady says:

      Haha! I thought I’d be able to get away with that for a while (free WordPress account with a redirecting domain). I told myself I’d upgrade if it became a problem – so, I’ve upgraded. It’s fixed now! Thanks for bringing it to my attention, though. It really is better with a proper domain setup.

      Like

  5. raimeygallant says:

    I love how you’ve taken a concept every author struggles with and made it so simple to understand. I wish I’d read this when I started writing fiction. Great post, Brig! I just got back from San Francisco (very) early this morning, so I’m catching up with all the great posts this month, but your email is sitting ready like a present I can’t wait to open. I have to get some other commitments (such as this one) in the bag first, but rest assured, you’ll hear from me before too long. I’m guessing within a week, but no firm promise on that yet. I’m really impressed with your writing in this post, so now I’m even more excited! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Sonia Sulaiman says:

    Great post, Brigitte. I feel this. I have come across writer’s craft books all about upping word counts as fast as possible and it feels really counter intuitive to me. I’ll just spend more time in revision and enjoy my writing time so much less.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. lalanquist says:

    This is such a clear way of putting it. I’ve generally imagined that a book will always take the same amount of time if you rush through the writing and edit it later or if you take your time with the first draft (though not necessarily the same amount of time as other books). I think usually it’s just personal style in the end!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Brigitte Kirady says:

      Good luck on the rework! Three or four years back, I whittled down my novel from 150,000 words, down to 50,000. It was partly cathartic to get rid of all the things that weren’t working for me, but I’ll admit it was incredibly depressing! Just know that in the end, the rework WILL be worth it!

      Like

  8. Meka James says:

    We are all individuals and what works for one won’t work for another. That comes into play for all aspects of writing. Plotting or planning. Edit as you go, or wait til the end. The process is the process and it can’t be rushed. Good luck with your novel!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. jomz says:

    Wow, 9 years? I’d have difficulty polishing a work up that long. But if time makes diamonds, I hope yours be a brilliant one.

    I agree, when working on the first draft, it’s about quantity. Pour in as much words as you can to get the story done. When it’s time to edit, then we trim, add, alter – whatever, to improve the quality.

    Great post! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Jennifer says:

    Thank you for sharing the struggle with getting to the lens change where you could be proud of your EXCELLENT work, instead of waiting to be proud of a finished product. I’m certain that you’ll be proud of both, in the end. It was interesting to read this sage advice and perspective.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Lena Frank says:

    Hey everybody writes a book differently! Some people can churn out a book once a year, others takes many years. And from what I understand, the more you write the better you get at figuring out what it takes to get that novel to the state you want it to be. Thanks for sharing this! I can’t wait to see your book’s full journey!

    Liked by 2 people

  12. TD Storm says:

    I’m reminded of this quote from Neil Gaiman: “Whatever it takes to finish things, finish. You will learn more from a glorious failure than you ever will from something you never finished.” On the one hand, this could be construed as a counterpoint to what you’re saying here, but I don’t think it is. I think you’re doing what you need to do to finish. Most of us don’t live long enough to write dozens of novels (unless you’re Danielle Steel). You only get a few shots at it, really. It should be something you’re really proud of.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Christy Shuler says:

    This is a great point. Just because someone may be writing faster doesn’t mean that the quality is there. I’ve definitely beaten myself up in the past watching other established authors who pump out books like crazy. Sometimes when I start applying too much pressure on myself to meet a self-imposed timeline, I have to stop and force myself to look at it realistically and that rushing to finish will only produce a poor quality result. And that’s not what I’m going for either! Quality over quantity! Love it.

    Liked by 1 person

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