Quality vs. Quantity – the battle that is almost as old as time. And one that is a struggle to determine a winner. My non-writing career is in Quality Assurance (QA) and I’m also an INTJ personality type (click here to find your personality type). So it is a given I’d favor quality over quantity. My writing output is pure evidence of that. I labor over every piece of work. After almost 2 decades of writing, I just have one small publication. Everything else that I have written, never seems to be good enough. It isn’t quality in my eyes.
Then one day, a concerned friend staged an intervention by saying the “Quality versus Quantity” battle was a load of BS.
That got me thinking…
Laboring over the same stories year after year does not enable one to grow. As a writer, I should finish, publish, and allow my reader to determine whether a written piece will fly or fall. If it flies, then I know what will work for the next piece. If it falls, then I know what I need to do differently. This whole writing thing — it’s a learning experience. We are all not going to master it until we have been writing for decades. Even then we may never master it.
The lightbulb moment…
With a pure quality mentality, I am going to write the perfect piece. However, I will waste all of my energy on ONE piece of work. It’s a gamble. Readers may or may not like it. If that one piece falls, then essentially I would be a failure.
If I focus on quantity, then I bang out material left and right, throwing it out to the masses who may eagerly await the next publication. That is key in building an audience and a following. However, publishing pieces too quickly causes a decline in quality. Over the time of mass publication, the quality of the work will range between average to dismal.
This whole writing thing should not be about “quality versus quantity”, but “quantity that balances quality”. Working in the realm of QA, that is a hard thing to manage. So often teams are wanting a product to go to market, however the QA side won’t grant approval because the product doesn’t meet standards. Arguments ensue and usually QA has to let things slide. We see this in every industry. How many defective products have you owned in your life? That is because there was a disregard for quality and the manufacture just wanted to produce, produce, produce. Though, without production there is no money and without money companies go out of business.
So if that is the case, should we not run our “authorship” (spin on entrepreneurship) in this manner with producing a higher quantity? Yes and no. If you only plan to only write one story, then quality should be a higher focus and you can spend all the time in the world working towards the perfect publication. However, as I know most of you reading this want an “authorship” to be your career, the only way to make money at this game is to produce.
But you can’t just constantly deliver without assessing the quality of your product. You may have the perfect marketing platform which pulls in a high audience because of the volume of books that you can quickly produce. Though overtime, people wise up. They are money conscious. Readers don’t want to spend their money on something that lacks quality. There needs to be a standard to your writing. If you are looking to increase your quantity of writing for a larger production scale, then you must list out criteria that your work must meet before you deem it acceptable for publication. Think of this list of standards as your quality control (QC) check before delivering to the masses.
The road to a solution…
I am still in this phase of finding the balance of quality versus quantity. It has not been an easy process and I will probably be fighting for this balance through the rest of my life – I am an INTJ after all. Though for my sanity and to keep my writing in check, I did create myself a list of standards that I must abide by for my writing. This list helps me to check off all the “quality boxes” that I need to meet, but it also frees me from seeking perfection in the piece. Once all the boxes are checked on my “QC Checklist”, I consider the piece to be done and will send it off to beta readers, editors, and proofreaders.
Sorry, I won’t be sharing my “QC Checklist” yet. It is a rather insane 11.5 pages. Admittedly it needs to be whittled down. However, the content of my list is not is what is important. What is important is that I no longer allow quality to hang me up from publication. The list of standards will control what is acceptable or not acceptable for publication. Should anything fail on the list, then it is within reason to revise what failed the quality check.
So the “Quality versus Quantity battle is really irrelevant and should not cross your mind. As a writer, what you should think about is “Quantity that balances Quality”. That stability the key to successful and prolific publication.
If you would like to hear more about “Quality versus Quantity”, check out this video by author Walter Mosley.
I will be taking off next week from The Sarcastic Muse for the holiday season. I want to wish everyone a safe and happy holiday. I will see you all on December 31st… hmm, maybe with a post on writing resolutions for 2015.
Holiday wishes from a fellow INTJ 🙂
Quantity that balances quality – that is the perfect way to look at our writing endeavors. It’s so easy to say, but oh so difficult to actually do. The idea of a QC checklist is a great idea for covering your bases prior to publishing, whether it’s a post on a blog or a manuscript submission. Thanks for sharing and best wishes for a happy holiday season to you too!
This is an excellent mantra to take into the New Year – Quantity Balanced with Quality. I won’t stress so much about non-production if what I DO write is good quality!
Enjoy your time off.
Okay, so I’m an INFP, so a lot about our interactions makes sense. :~) That said, 1. I think you’re absolutely right about balancing quality and quantity. 2. More importantly, it’s great that you’ve come up with a *strategy* for dealing with the conflict. I’m trying to figure how to do the same but coming from a somewhat different direction: That is, I often have a hard time producing because it doesn’t “feel” right inside. Everyone’s tendencies have their strengths and weaknesses. The trick is to exploit the strengths and devise a work-around (like your QC checklist) for the weaknesses. Also, I don’t think the length of your list is a problem unless it gets in the way or your finishing and sending stuff out. Thanks for another insightful post, and I hope you enjoy your holidays.
Grandfather always says that better is the mortal enemy of good enough. But…he’s not a writer, so how can he understand my problems. Ha. Silent
I laughed out loud about your friend staging an intervention, “Amanda, I love you, but we need to talk….”
I love that your Quality Control checklist is 11.5 pages. YOU MAKE ME 🙂
Everything you said both quality and quantity were dead-on. I love it. Thanks for another great post!
Glad to meet a fellow INTJ. We have the same problems. If the first word or sentence isn’t right, all writing stops. It is a drawback, and I have tried not minding the mistakes as I write on. But it hurts to ignore them. The INTJ thing even affects my work at the office. I have to be precise.