Are Writers Choosing Quantity Over Quality?

So, a particular Twitter conversation recently got me thinking.

The Twitter convo was actually a poll, something to this effect; would you rather write 1000 decent words a day and be published every year, or write 100 outstanding words a day and be published once every 5 years. 

No brainer, I thought. Who’d be happy to publish ‘decent’ writing just for the vanity (or greed) of being constantly published, when they could sacrifice time and have a truly wonderful book at the end?

Turns out, according to the poll results, more than half of people who answered the poll indicated they’d prefer to write ‘decent’ writing and get it published more frequently, rather than spend a longer time to hone and polish a marvelous piece.

At first, I was outraged. Then came dismay. But as I mulled on this surprising development, I began to wonder if perhaps I’m too – wait for it – precious with my writing? Is the real reason Guns of Perdition has languished in writing (and now editing hell) for THREE years because I’m a perfectionist? Because I can’t stand the thought of *releasing something ‘decent’ but not outstanding? If so… is that right? Should I be so hard on myself when – clearly – some other writers aren’t, and their stuff is not only published but selling?

Where do you fall on this issue? Are you happy to take the time to sculpt and hone to make something truly exceptional, knowing it might take years to be released? Or are you happy publishing something quickly that’s decent, but not standout.

Or do you have another take on this issue entirely? Share your thoughts below!


*releasing in this instance refers to self-publishing

43 thoughts on “Are Writers Choosing Quantity Over Quality?

  1. 100 amazing words a day and I am in heaven.
    Don’t even care if I am published or not.
    I write to release my heart.
    Agree with all you say here. People are hungry for fame and cash. Sad but true.

    Missed reading you and enjoying you being around again.
    Hope I don’t have to remind you who I am AGAIN! ♥

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hahaha, no hon, I’m glad to ‘see’ you again! And I totally agree about writing to release the heart (I’ve got a post coming up soon where I look at a song lyric that says something similar).
      Glad to be back! ❤️🤗

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’d rather write 1000 decent words a day and be published more frequently because I’m sure with each novel I would get better. At the end of those five years, with five novels under my belt, I will be just as good as the 100-outstanding-words writer, but more prolific.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I seldom put out anything I have not worked at. I’d be happy to be published and paid at whatever point… but happier still if something I had written moved someone, made them think or raised a smile.

    As far as your question is concerned, though, I’d wonder who is the judge? What a writer may feel is their best work may not be ‘saleable’ stuff and therefore remain unpublished entirely…unless they have already published enough to build an adoring audience. So that is a bit of a catch 22…

    Also, older writers who have something that demands to be said may not have the luxury of five years to polish words when it is the message that matters.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks sue. You’re right of course about the catch 22… great point. And I agree wholeheartedly that I’d be happier knowing my words moved someone, more so than was a financial success. But maybe that’s because I don’t rely on my writing for income, so I have that luxury 🤔


  4. Unfortunately, this isn’t a black or white issue. Perfection is an illusion, because there is always something you could have done better. Work at it. Get critique from a reliable person. Eventually, an author gets something to market. Market reactions are also important, and you’ll never have them until some of your work is out there. For me, I publish a book, or two, every year.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I try so dang hard, Jess, to write the best book I can. It’s grueling. It’s not perfect. But it’s the best I can do. Personally, I think we owe our very best to our paying readers and to other authors, especially other indie authors. And if we want to make a living at it, we have to be committed to exceptional work (and exceptionally lucky). All that said, there is a point where editing stops “improving” a book and ends up only “rewriting” it. Take pleasure in your work and be proud of it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. See, I love this reply. This was my thinking behind the post and when I first saw the poll results. In my gut I feel as though I owe my readers – people who will spend money and time to follow me on some grand journey – nothing but the best I can give them. If I know in my heart, I’m only giving them ‘decent’, purely because I want to be more frequently published, I’d feel so wrong.

      But, there have been many good points made in response to this topic that have suggested all manner of other reasons why writers might choose decent writing over exceptional and publish more frequently.

      I’m learning! 🤗

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I pay my bills by writing, and therefore my output must be continuous – I need to write a lot, and publish frequently, simply because the bills keep coming, and in today’s market a book, no matter if published traditionally or independently, has a very short shelf life.
    On the other hand, I do not believe there is any correlation between quality and quantity – I write the best story as I can, and as fast as I can. Would I write better going slower or producing less? I doubt it.
    In the end, each one of us has to find their own rhythm and their own measure, I think.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Dave for giving the perspective of someone who LIVES off their writing. That said, and as you said, I can’t see you compromising your writing and getting a piece published you’re not totally happy with. Some writers are just blessed to be good AND speedy. Damn annoying writers… while the rest of us spend a day getting three sentences down. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Meh. I’m going to go in between. If it takes me five years to be published at 100 words a day I’m probably not a serious writer. Otherwise I’d be working at my craft and honing it. By the same token, I won’t put out any work that isn’t my absolute best. I do believe that serious writers can produce 1-2 quality books a year that are polished and exceptional. I read a ton of them, but I think they’ve reached that point through experience and practice. If it took my favorite authors to write a book I’d be devastated!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. The most important thing is that you don’t release your book until you have it polished, You one get one chance to make a first impression. I’ve seen too many indie authors rush book before it’s ready.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I’m a slow writer. I can get the first drafts out faster but then when it comes to the rewriting, it takes forever it seems. I want to be proud of my writing but then again, if I stay with a book for years and years as I have in the past and avoid ever submitting it, I’m not sure that’s a good move either. I think everything depends on the book.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I’m actually of both schools of thought. I’ve written stories in 2-3 weeks (and honed them before publishing) and I’ve also had volumes take years and years. It just depends on the tale.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So true! Some stories just pour out of me… some I have to struggle and grapple with, and spit out each word with agony. In the end, I guess it takes as long as it takes… so long as it’s worth someone’s time to read it! Thanks for stopping by 🤗

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I feel like this is a very interesting question.

    I do think there comes a time where every story needs to be set aside, regardless of whether or not it’s published. I think after a few months, or years (depending on the length of the story), if it’s not being published, it may be good to step away, work on something else, and come back to that project in a few months (or longer, depending on your preference).

    I think sometimes “I’m not yet the person who can write ‘this story.” So I let it lie fallow for a time, and work on something new, or revisit something else that’s been lying fallow for a while.

    And sometimes it helps to come back with a fresh, blank perspective.

    And there’s the idea that some stories are more ambitious and complex than others. The Ice and Fire series has a far more intricate web than many stories.

    When in doubt, I try to limit myself to 3-4 pass throughs (usually I favor 2-3), and then I send it out, and if it’s not accepted anywhere, I make note of it and continue with whatever I’m working on.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I’d rather take ages to write my stories and publish something amazing 🙂 I’ve been working on both my novels for at least a year now, and they’ll probably take at least a year more!

    Liked by 1 person

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