1. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    Aiming for quantity produces quality better than aiming for quality.

    Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by Aaron DC, Jul 31, 2015.

    Based on this article of ceramic production: https://sivers.org/qlq



    This was offered as an argument against "quality trumps quantity" when it comes to words / day writing goals.

    It would seem to indicate NaNoWriMo is more useful than just encouraging you to produce the most amount of words in a limited time - and that you would be a better writer, producing better quality of writing at the end of it?

    It seems counter intuitive to me.

    Without an improvement feedback loop, what's to stop you simply repeating the same mistakes over and over?
     
  2. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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  3. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    This came up before in a discussion about churning out commercial material vs taking longer to write the novel you want to write. While it may sound convincing, I'm not sure the pottery anecdote is the final answer.
     
  4. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    But "churning out the commercial material" is taking the same tack as daemon -- assuming the person can write in the first place.

    A beginning writer would not be churning out commercial anything, surely?

    In the example, the ceramic students were students, doing something for the first time. I'd like to sustain that level of experience between the two "people" in these scenarios.
     
  5. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    This one single example is repeated all over the writer's blogosphere. Do we even know if the story is real? Has the study been replicated? Does it apply to other art forms?

    Scientists Debunk The Myth That 10,000 Hours Of Practice Makes You An Expert

    My issue isn't with the concept, it's with my skepticism when I see a 'story' passed around as evidence, especially one that is echoed over and over with no corroborating stories, let alone valid research.

    It's a parable, it's not evidence.
     
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  6. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    You are right. I used it as a parable to illustrate my point, not as evidence to prove it.
    If you would like to do that, then go ahead. I will agree with you. You will not learn how to avoid a mistake simply by making the same mistake over and over again. My point was not that you can.

    This is my point:

    Assume you are a competent writer who never makes spelling and grammar mistakes. What point is there in improving your first draft, if there are no mistakes? To make it more worth reading. More entertaining, more moving, more interesting, etc.

    Sometimes, you will write two things, thing A and thing B. You can spend much more time improving A than improving B, and yet B will still be more worth reading.

    Therefore, your best work will be better if you try as many things as possible and put a reasonable effort into all of them than if you only try one thing and prematurely commit yourself to it.
     
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  7. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    Asimov churned out over 700 works during his career. Just saying. ;)
     
  8. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    Option A: I write 300 words and then try 6 different "things" -- your word, I have no exact idea what you mean exactly, but can continue -- to improve that writing and it takes me all day to do so. I have 300 of better than my best quality writing.

    Option B: I write 3000 words -- the quantity you are claiming trumps quality -- it takes me all day. I have done no editing or improvement.

    How is option B (aiming for quantity) better than option A (aiming for quality)?

    Can you provide an example based on the context of the original thread, which was asking if the word count they currently achieve is sufficient?
     
  9. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    I see that a bit in the cycling world. People compared to outliers to support an argument. I don't accept them here either :p
     
  10. ChickenFreak
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    Well, I wouldn't think of it as 300 words versus 3000 words. I would think of it as one piece versus ten pieces.

    I agree with Daemon's post. That is (I paraphrase in case I've got his point wrong), I believe that when you reach a certain skill level, the value of your writing is not primarily about skill, but inspiration. I don't believe that inspiration necessarily comes when it's called, and I don't believe that you necessarily know that it's present when it's inspiring you. Often, you can't tell until a hour or a month or a year later, when you re-read the piece. When you re-read that piece and feel the inspiration inside it, I would say that THEN is the time to go through and polish polish polish it to a high shine.

    Now, the ability to do that polishing assumes skill. And you had to get that skill from somewhere. But I would argue that skill also comes from quantity, from producing tons and tons of words, more than it comes from polishing the same set of words many times. Not crazed, headlong-rush quantity, which means that NaNoWriMo is probably pushing 'quantity' too hard--I see it as an exercise in breaking writer's block, not as an actual way to produce good stuff.

    It's a balance. But I think that for most writers (there are always exceptions), if a writer is afraid to ever produce something flawed, if the prospect of writing a "good enough for now" sentence or paragraph or page makes them wince or shudder or even quail to the point that they can't even do it, if they can't write another piece until this one is perfect perfect perfect, if they've been working on that page for a month, the balance is being pushed too far toward perfection.
     
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  11. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    At the end of the previous discussion I believe the consensus was, both prolific and low quantity writers include both good and bad writers among their members.
     
  12. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    A "thing" is a self-contained creation, like a ceramic jar or a novel.

    These options better illustrate what I am referring to:

    Option A: you write a 10,000 word story in one week and spend the next year improving it.

    Option B: every month, you write a 10,000 word story in the first week and spend the rest of the month improving it.

    The A story might be "better" than all twelve B stories, in the sense that the prose is clearer, the plot makes more sense, etc., but I could probably find a B story that I would rather read than the A story.
     
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  13. GingerCoffee
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    I'm not sure I'm following you here. Are you implying all there is to editing is correcting grammar and spelling?

    That's not my definition of thorough editing. Spelling and grammar are very small parts.
     
  14. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    No. My first paragraph says "What point is there in improving your first draft, if there are no mistakes? To make it more worth reading. More entertaining, more moving, more interesting, etc."

    While editing does make something more "worth reading", there is a limit to how much good it can do. The limit is higher for some works than for others.
     
  15. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    The problem here is, and it's the same problem I have with the parable, which method is better depends on the writer and the story, not on the process.

    My writing style is A. I wrote 134,000 word 2-book story in ~45 days. And I've spent the last three and a half years turning it into a decent novel. It would not have suited me to write a bunch of stuff first.

    But lots of writers (maybe most) write for many years learning their craft. That works too.
     
  16. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Ah. Okay. I confess I didn't actually read through the entire thread; it looked rather polarized in the first few messages, so I skipped to the end. :cool:
     
  17. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    Ah so when someone says "is 300 words a day enough" and I say -- quality trumps quantity -- implying 300 quality words a day is better than 3000 words of shit a day.

    And you respond -- not true, one 12 x 10,000 word, completed novel in a week and then edited for 3 weeks is better than one 10,000 word novel completed in a week then edited for 51 weeks.

    You are in fact disagreeing with ... well certainly not what I said.

    Correct?

    Furthermore, your parable indicates the quality focused students did not even start a ceramic, let alone finish one.

    Incredibly confusing, to say the least.

    :crazy:
     
  18. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Yes, he is definitely an outlier. I suppose Stephen King could be considered one, too.

    Statistically, speaking, how many outliers does it take to screw in a light bulb?

    None. (if you know statistics, this is funny; if you're a statistician, you'll be rolling on the floor right now :D)
     
  19. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes, it appears we both had hidden meanings behind our contradictory platitudes, leading to a debate over nothing.
     
  20. Aaron DC
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    I'd like to think it lead to a discussion, at any rate.

    I am a writing novice, have not written a novel, but have written a lot of (software) code, and the principle of practicing skills in sport aligns with my perception of writing skills practice. That is the source of my platitude.

    My thought is to write a chapter at a time and then polish.

    Do you feel it would be better to finish an entire novel (probably 80-100k words) instead, and then edit?
     
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  21. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    I cannot speak for anyone else, but as a perfectionist, it is a constant struggle to coach myself to resist the temptation to edit as I go.

    "daemon, you know exactly what you mean by what you just wrote, and editing it to say the same thing in a different way will not help you. Just finish what you are writing and then edit the individual pieces when you see how they fit together."
     
  22. Aaron DC
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    If it was good enough for Vonnegut... ;)
     
  23. Hubardo
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    Hubardo Contributing Member Contributor

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    @Wreybies talk
     
  24. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Um... am I being asked to speak? I'm happy to, but I'm not sure as to what... :wtf:
     
  25. Hubardo
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    Hubardo Contributing Member Contributor

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    Say the smart stuff about the things.
     
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