How To Become a Better Writer Faster

I’ve been spending the last seven years getting to know the habits of writers. I’ve found that some aspiring writers focus strictly on quality. They write slowly and carefully, trying to make each sentence perfect. Other writers focus on quantity. The goal is to write as many books/blog posts/articles/pages as possible.

Have you ever wondered which way is better? Which method will help you become a better writer faster?

How To Become a Better Writer Faster

Quantity versus Quality: Which Is Better for Writers?

A high school pottery teacher split his class in half. To one half he told them they only had to produce one perfect pot by the end of the semester and they would get an A. He turned to the other half. They had to produced fifty pounds of pots by the end of the semester. It didn’t matter whether the pots they made were good or not. They simply had to be pots and there had to be fifty pounds of them.

By the end of the year, who do you think produced the best pot?

It’s really a question of what makes better work, quality or quantity?

Who produced the best pot in the class? The quantity people or the quality people? The quality people spent hours on a single pot, throwing it and re-throwing it. But by the end, none of them had made a perfect pot.

The quantity people on the other hand, made so many pots so quickly that over time they figured out how to do it right. By the end of the semester, they could throw the perfect pot.

Quantity wins.

How Do You Become a Writer?

A few years ago, I travelled around the world for about a year. One day in the Transylvanian mountains of Romania, one of my friends asked for some advice. “I want to be a writer. How do you do it?”

“Write every day,” I said. “Do you do that?”

“No, but I have a lot of ideas for good books.”

My friend didn’t bring up his writing for a couple of months. I thought I had scared him off. But then one day while in Turkey, he came up to me. He had spent two weeks writing a novel, and wanted my advice.

“How much have you written?” I asked, expecting about five or six pages.

He replied, “One-hundred and fifty pages, single-spaced.”

Holy crap. There I was struggling to write a page a day and he was writing ten a day. Later that year, he wrote three-quarters of a movie script and five episodes of a TV series. I saw some of his writing and while it had plenty of flaws, you could see the improvement already. He was becoming a better writer faster.

Write More Today

It’s tempting to focus on perfection, especially if you’re trying to become a better writer.

Unfortunately, as the students above learned, when you try to write perfectly, you don’t spend much time actually writing.

If you want to become a better writer, it’s far more effective to do a lot of bad writing than a little perfect writing, especially since if you’re aiming for perfection, you’ll be writing forever.

Today, don’t try to be perfect. Just try to write something better than what you wrote yesterday.

Do you focus on quality or quantity in your writing? Let me know in the comments section.

PRACTICE

For fifteen minutes, write as much as you can about the people you work with. Do you ever have any conflicts with them? What do they look like? What are your interactions like? Don’t edit. Just write.

Make sure you post your practice in the comments. Let’s see who can write the most!

About Joe Bunting

Joe Bunting is a writer and entrepreneur. He is the author of the #1 Amazon Bestseller Let's Write a Short Story! and the co-founder of Story Cartel. You can follow him on Twitter (@joebunting).

  • Rincon Stevie

    What a funny way to talk about the people you work with…back office…the real work is done…in the back office. The real trouble, for me, is mostly CAUSED in the back office. I love getting the right information in the right box. I get energised just thinking about systems so I can put things in order…not that my brain is organized…sorry, not…but the appeal to be organized, that is sexy. I like having the right box for the right tool. The right furniture of the right tax. The right jig for the right cut…unfortunately, I can’t draw, write neatly, cut compicated angles. I can’t fit the right shirt in the right drawer, or get my change organized. But the appeal still calls. And that brings me to the back office. Their job is to make sure that my paperwork is matched up perfectly with the client aspirations for their money. And since we are talking about money…it is important that these things match up. Given that I am challenged in this area…vertically…horizont
    ally…diagonaly…spacially…I struggle. I like to think I am a good administrator…everyone tells me I am a good administrator. Of course I can’t spell…and it irritates me when I meet other people who can’t spell. I’d like to think I can figure things out, but when I need help, I call my back office. And that, is often the begining of the loss of my “peace”. This usually happens slowly…given that the usual call starts with three minutes of hold and annoying music…then progresses to the identification process, where I usually have forgotten the specifics of why I called because I’ve gone on to something else in the precious time I was waiting. But of course, then I sound like a dimwit…and credibility matters when you are on the other end of a wire…it isn’t the same thing as being able to get right in someone’s space…but I digress. The point is that I usually start my back office visit behind the eightball. Moving on, I try to recoup the advantage of moral high
    ground by asksing for the person’s name again, just so they know that I am going to keep track of just exactly what the do for me. And I write their name down and the time I spoke to them and if I am lucky they won’t transfer me to someone else. They usually try to help…they are nice…usually…sometimes they are smart and will try very hard to plumb the depth of my problem…but as the conversation drags on, it becomes clear…all to often, that they can’t help me because I have used the wrong form, or missed a check box that will now have to be initialed by the client…and often I need to reverify the identity of the client because their drivers license has expired, whipeing the validity of their identity right out of the system. And so, in order to fix the problem I called about, I should have known, that the identity of the client I’ve delt with for 25 years, needs to be re certified. Damn. How did I get to this place where my voice is tense, my bp is elevated and my frustration with the need to get things in the right little box has come back to bite me…one more time.

    • Joe Bunting

      Glad you stopped by to practice Mr. Stevie!

      I love the stream of consciousness in this post. It has an energy to it, a frenetic pace. We don’t necessarily need to understand what you’re talking about because the voice is interesting.

      I would love to see you write a specific scene in this voice rather than just speaking in generalities. I can see you have a lot of material here. It would be cool to see the specifics, the real people in the annoying office drama.

      “Damn. How did I get to this place where my voice is tense, my bp is elevated and my frustration with the need to get things in the right little box has come back to bite me…one more time.” I love that! That could be the first sentence to an amazing scene.

  • Anonymous

    Greg is stocky. Like a brick. He talks in a low voice. Instead of taking the stairs up to Sassafras tower, he climbs hand over hand up the guy cable to the platform twenty feet above it, a beast. I don’t envy him his strength. I get to watch him perform, but I don’t care to join. I don’t need acrobatics or feats of strength to be happy. We sling people through trees. It’s the job I do. They fly, seventy feet above the ground, screaming, often. I enjoy the woods, the white and red oaks, the hickory trees, the buckeye and dogwood and beech trees as much or more as my fellow empoyees. The muscadine and virginia creeper and kudzu are silent coworkers. I find blackberries along the trails and chew on sourwood and my lips pucker. A conversation.

    Greg and the other employees are interesting too, I guess. After our training some of the tour guides threw a party at the A Frame. How do you refuse a party on your first week of a job? I had to go. I pulled up in the darkness. They sat around a fire, ten of them. They smoke and drank Bud Light. “Anyone want a Fat Tire Summer Ale?” I asked, lifting the beer I brought, feeling like an idiot. Chills of pre-rejection crept up my spine.

    “You’re from California right,” said Jeff.

    “Yeah.”

    “Wow. You miss it?”

    “Not really. It’s like every other place right. There are good things and bad things, but after you’ve been there for long enough, you don’t see them anymore. I miss the people though.”

    He offered me his bong. “You smoke.” I declined.

    Trevor pulled up with his sister Tina. She is six two. A giantess. He brought a 24 pack, a handle of bourbon and a two liter of coke. He shook everyone’s hand eagerly, a big smile on his face. He’s a born salesman. Then, he poured a big glass two-thirds full of bourbon and filled the rest with coke.

    “How many drinks have you had, Jeff? I need to catch up!”

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  • Seth

    It’s fun to watch the interaction here.

    You ought to meet this guy – Seth grew up with him on Summerwood Cr: http://youngmanoldman.blogspot.com/

    • Joe Bunting

      Lives in gainesville?

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  • http://letmemoveyou.me Shelley Lundquist

    I am an entrepreneur. I don’t work with anybody unless I am collaborating on a project.

    It’s been years since I had a full-time job working for someone else. I miss it dreadfully. There is something so empowering about working with a team of people that you respect and who respect you. Maybe it was because I felt the difference I made there.

    I worked for a Women’s Centre whose purpose was to provide a place for women who were victims of violence to turn. I met so many strong and courageous women who will always have a special place in my heart. I spent seven life-changing years there. Growing. Healing. Making a difference.

    Sarah was a counsellor there for over 20 years. Her faith in God was strong and she seemed so different than the others. She set boundaries for herself that I never understood. Her beautiful blonde hair framed her face with golden light. She always had an air of peace about her that I found astonishing given the difficulty of our backdrop. Sarah always seemed so able to leave the horrendous stories she heard in the moment she heard them She did not carry them like I did, but then I wasn’t a counsellor. There was a time I thought this made her less caring, but I discovered it was the secret to her strength. She never had lunch with any of the rest of us. She was not part of the convivial camaraderie that the rest of us enjoyed. She kept to herself. But from time to time, she would stop by my office to talk and to acknowledge. She was a puzzle to me. I remember once when she came into my office and she sat down. She was quiet at first, and then she told me how glad she was that I had become part of the team. She told me that she admired that I always spoke up for what I believed in, no matter the outcome – that for me, everything was about justice and doing what was right. I gloried in that moment – that recognition. So much so, that I let it define me for years. I felt I had to be that person and that it was my obligation to fight for justice like a lack-lustre superhero.

    And then there was Evelyn. She was Chairman of the Board, and a corporate shrike from hell. She and I shared no common ground. From her perspective, I never knew my place. I did not bow down to her as she entered the room. I did not kiss her ass incessantly, or ever for that matter, so that she could feel good about herself. Evelyn was a short round troll of a woman, with a blonde bob that never bounced playfully. It framed a cruel face and small dark eyes that could look right through you. She, I do not miss. (or is that her? My education seems to have abandoned me!)

    Anna was a God-send. She taught me so many valuable lessons. She was a gentle woman, with kind eyes and a great sense of humour. Her positivity was palpable! I had expected her office to be cave-like, with pillows on the ground where she sat to ponder life’s mysteries. She was our sage guru. She once declared to me that she had never met a woman so confident her abilities and what she could achieve who ahd no confidence in herself. Wow! She packed quite a wallop! I felt stripped bare and ashamed that she saw right through me. I was sure she was sent to help me heal. And that she did.

  • http://letmemoveyou.me Shelley Lundquist

    I am an entrepreneur. I don’t work with anybody unless I am collaborating on a project.

    It’s been years since I had a full-time job working for someone else. I miss it dreadfully. There is something so empowering about working with a team of people that you respect and who respect you. Maybe it was because I felt the difference I made there.

    I worked for a Women’s Centre whose purpose was to provide a place for women who were victims of violence to turn. I met so many strong and courageous women who will always have a special place in my heart. I spent seven life-changing years there. Growing. Healing. Making a difference.

    Sarah was a counsellor there for over 20 years. Her faith in God was strong and she seemed so different than the others. She set boundaries for herself that I never understood. Her beautiful blonde hair framed her face with golden light. She always had an air of peace about her that I found astonishing given the difficulty of our backdrop. Sarah always seemed so able to leave the horrendous stories she heard in the moment she heard them She did not carry them like I did, but then I wasn’t a counsellor. There was a time I thought this made her less caring, but I discovered it was the secret to her strength. She never had lunch with any of the rest of us. She was not part of the convivial camaraderie that the rest of us enjoyed. She kept to herself. But from time to time, she would stop by my office to talk and to acknowledge. She was a puzzle to me. I remember once when she came into my office and she sat down. She was quiet at first, and then she told me how glad she was that I had become part of the team. She told me that she admired that I always spoke up for what I believed in, no matter the outcome – that for me, everything was about justice and doing what was right. I gloried in that moment – that recognition. So much so, that I let it define me for years. I felt I had to be that person and that it was my obligation to fight for justice like a lack-lustre superhero.

    And then there was Evelyn. She was Chairman of the Board, and a corporate shrike from hell. She and I shared no common ground. From her perspective, I never knew my place. I did not bow down to her as she entered the room. I did not kiss her ass incessantly, or ever for that matter, so that she could feel good about herself. Evelyn was a short round troll of a woman, with a blonde bob that never bounced playfully. It framed a cruel face and small dark eyes that could look right through you. She, I do not miss. (or is that her? My education seems to have abandoned me!)

    Anna was a God-send. She taught me so many valuable lessons. She was a gentle woman, with kind eyes and a great sense of humour. Her positivity was palpable! I had expected her office to be cave-like, with pillows on the ground where she sat to ponder life’s mysteries. She was our sage guru. She once declared to me that she had never met a woman so confident her abilities and what she could achieve who ahd no confidence in herself. Wow! She packed quite a wallop! I felt stripped bare and ashamed that she saw right through me. I was sure she was sent to help me heal. And that she did.

  • Dsbroussard

    Currenty I’m not getting much work however on occasion i work with someone doing tree work. He talks alot about how the goverment is try to take from him and he gets real angry and often tells me he fears they will come and get him over the health care thingy. He dosen’t want to pay in. But as of now he has no insureace and uses goverment funds to get health care when he needs it. I try to point out the the humor of the siduation but he only gets angry. So for the most part i just do my work and try my best to stay out of the whole politics thing cause i’ve noticed people get very angry. Also he is not one i would want to get to raled up as he is about 330 and 6’4. So’s I let it slide. I find myself bitiing my tounge alot cause i need the work and his so damn big i would cetainly not wish to fight him. Also I am a lover not a fight or at least i’m trying to be. Learning to keep my thinking to myself. its not easy I sorta like talking and getting a good flow going but often I find myself saying the wrong things. Working hard on it these days, learning to leave that damn white whale alone. Lots of learning and many things to paractise on cause i’m really no different I have my own tender spots and absertatys.

    Yes I can’t spell.
    But it felt good to write.

    • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

      Way to get it on the page!

  • Dsbroussard

    Currenty I’m not getting much work however on occasion i work with someone doing tree work. He talks alot about how the goverment is try to take from him and he gets real angry and often tells me he fears they will come and get him over the health care thingy. He dosen’t want to pay in. But as of now he has no insureace and uses goverment funds to get health care when he needs it. I try to point out the the humor of the siduation but he only gets angry. So for the most part i just do my work and try my best to stay out of the whole politics thing cause i’ve noticed people get very angry. Also he is not one i would want to get to raled up as he is about 330 and 6’4. So’s I let it slide. I find myself bitiing my tounge alot cause i need the work and his so damn big i would cetainly not wish to fight him. Also I am a lover not a fight or at least i’m trying to be. Learning to keep my thinking to myself. its not easy I sorta like talking and getting a good flow going but often I find myself saying the wrong things. Working hard on it these days, learning to leave that damn white whale alone. Lots of learning and many things to paractise on cause i’m really no different I have my own tender spots and absertatys.

    Yes I can’t spell.
    But it felt good to write.

    • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

      Way to get it on the page!

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  • Calvin

    I disagree.. Quantity is quantity, but many quantity people keep making the same mistakes and never learnt to master their ability.. But the question being open ended contains many different levels.. I would rather say, Quantity is more for practice. At the early stage of knowledge, we can’t have quality, we need to try many times, so we can see perspective on all the different angles.. But once we learnt enough from quantity, we will need to develop quality in our work. The progression works this way, Quantity lvl 1> Quality lvl 1> Quantity lvl 2> Quality lvl 2 etc etc.. When given challenges where the time given allowed makes us choose between Quantity vs Quality, that’s where we have to strategize, what is more important, we place out quality, what is less important, we have quantity.. priority management..

    • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

      Interesting ideas here, Calvin. I agree with your point that quantity alone isn’t enough. There has to be a focus on quality, or else you’ll never improve. This situation is unique, too, in that the quantity students still had a teacher who was giving specific feedback based on the quality of their work. Perhaps a better way to put it would be “quantity with a coach.”

      But your idea about leveling up is intriguing and probably true. There does seem to be a cycle here, almost like a wave, of learning then applying.

    • http://www.franklywrite.com Cynthia Franks

      Calvin, it is a given that the writer will re-write. The biggest problem in a creative or playwriting class is to get students to write enough. Most never do.

  • Calvin

    I disagree.. Quantity is quantity, but many quantity people keep making the same mistakes and never learnt to master their ability.. But the question being open ended contains many different levels.. I would rather say, Quantity is more for practice. At the early stage of knowledge, we can’t have quality, we need to try many times, so we can see perspective on all the different angles.. But once we learnt enough from quantity, we will need to develop quality in our work. The progression works this way, Quantity lvl 1> Quality lvl 1> Quantity lvl 2> Quality lvl 2 etc etc.. When given challenges where the time given allowed makes us choose between Quantity vs Quality, that’s where we have to strategize, what is more important, we place out quality, what is less important, we have quantity.. priority management..

    • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

      Interesting ideas here, Calvin. I agree with your point that quantity alone isn’t enough. There has to be a focus on quality, or else you’ll never improve. This situation is unique, too, in that the quantity students still had a teacher who was giving specific feedback based on the quality of their work. Perhaps a better way to put it would be “quantity with a coach.”

      But your idea about leveling up is intriguing and probably true. There does seem to be a cycle here, almost like a wave, of learning then applying.

  • ismael

    dear Joe bunting i was reading Calvin comments and i agree with him and i also agree with your examples. I also wanted to tell you about what i learn from history class about quantity vs quality, sorry if i’m a little off topic. In history class i learn that in WW2 soviet russia was way behind in term of technology and highly trained army and Nazi germany had all the technology and had the greatest train army in the world (in its time). BUT! Nazi germany lacks of one advantage that soviet russia has, numbers. At the height of WW2 nazis germany had only 12,000,000 troops and soviet russia had 33,000,000 troops which is the reason why soviet russia defeated nazi germany. Joseph stalin said “quantity has a quality all its own.” despite that he is worse than hitler i agree with his qoute because of many reason. One if look at the business world it “kinda” follow with Joseph stalin qoute. For example look at Mcdonald. If you Compare Mcdonald with a five star restaurant obviously five star restaurant has higher quality. But Mcdonald makes 100 times the profits than a five star restaurant because of their quantity food.
    Like Joseph Stalin said “quantity has quality all its own.”

  • ismael

    dear Joe bunting i was reading Calvin comments and i agree with him and i also agree with your examples. I also wanted to tell you about what i learn from history class about quantity vs quality, sorry if i’m a little off topic. In history class i learn that in WW2 soviet russia was way behind in term of technology and highly trained army and Nazi germany had all the technology and had the greatest train army in the world (in its time). BUT! Nazi germany lacks of one advantage that soviet russia has, numbers. At the height of WW2 nazis germany had only 12,000,000 troops and soviet russia had 33,000,000 troops which is the reason why soviet russia defeated nazi germany. Joseph stalin said “quantity has a quality all its own.” despite that he is worse than hitler i agree with his qoute because of many reason. One if look at the business world it “kinda” follow with Joseph stalin qoute. For example look at Mcdonald. If you Compare Mcdonald with a five star restaurant obviously five star restaurant has higher quality. But Mcdonald makes 100 times the profits than a five star restaurant because of their quantity food.
    Like Joseph Stalin said “quantity has quality all its own.”

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  • Matt

    Amazing post

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  • http://www.oentre.com/ Ucheseo

    Hello Joe, I believe it all depends on the goal or what you want to achieve. Quality demands more resources, it may take time to fine tune the skills to produce quality but once that’s fixed you have created a unique brand.
    Quality is smart, it’s thorough and special so most people will wait for it. I find this write-up interesting and precise.

    • http://www.franklywrite.com Cynthia Franks

      When you become more established, it isn’t as important, but I believe this is the best advice for every new writer.

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  • The Magician

    Here’s my interpretation first is quality then comes quantity. If you make something good that everyone loves sell it and make more.

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  • http://www.indieplottwist.com/ Carrie Lynn Lewis

    I’ve heard the pottery class story before, but it’s the sort of encouragement we can’t hear too much of.

    I walk both sides of the perfection line. I want everything I write to be the absolute best it can be.

    But I also learned a long time ago that the best way to write perfect words is to write a lot of bad words. Sometimes really bad.

    So I write every day whether I’m working on a book or not. Blog posts. Journal entries. Letters home. Every word I write makes me a better writer.

    About that assignment….

    I work at home. My only “coworkers” are the cats. Should I write about them? Or just make something up?

    • http://fiction4hisglory.com Reagan Colbert

      Well, you could write about the cats, if they’re interesting enough :). At least you have quiet coworkers!
      I’m in the same boat as you, Carrie. I’m at home, but there are quite a few people here with me. They’re family, though, so I’m not too sure if I should write about them… :)

      • http://www.indieplottwist.com/ Carrie Lynn Lewis

        Reagan,

        Thanks for the comment.

        The older cat is pretty quiet.

        The younger one, on the other hand…. Think teenage boy and you’ll get a good idea.

        Then there are the four orphan kittens in the back room. They’re eleven weeks old and full of hijinks.

        I’ll have to see what I can come up with today.

        Thanks for the encouragement!

    • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

      YES WRITE ABOUT YOUR CATS. :)

      • http://www.indieplottwist.com/ Carrie Lynn Lewis

        Well, then, I will. I missed an assignment to two this week anyway, so stay tuned!

      • http://www.indieplottwist.com/ Carrie Lynn Lewis

        Okay! Here goes!

        The exercise for this post is to write about coworkers. How I sometimes long for human coworkers! Think of all the work I could get done!

        Sigh.

        I work at home as an artist and writer. I call myself full time but creative time is usually limited to four hours a day. After that, there’s The Wall. Beyond The Wall, well, let’s not go there.

        Between the times my husband goes to work and comes home again, it’s only me.

        And the cats.

        Now you might think cats would be easy enough to work around. I mean, they sleep all day and prowl all night, right?

        I can attest to the night-time prowling. We have a very vocal “warbler” living with us and his repertoire can be quite diverse, depending, of course, upon the time of year.

        But the sleeping all day part? That’s the subject of this little blurb.

        Thomas is our oldest cat. We found him in a gutter in early June 2003. He and his brother were barely five weeks old when we spotted them on a evening walk. When I saw two white things at the opposite curb, I said, “What’s that over there?” and two kittens came charging across the street (fortunately there was no traffic.). Thomas ran up my husband all the way to his face. We took them home and, needless to say, they went no further.

        Thomas remains of the pair. Now thirteen, he’s troubled by diabetes, gall bladder attacks, and an allergy to chicken. He has a ravenous appetite thanks to the diabetes and is not at all averse to begging for food in the most approved canine-fashion (he has always had a bit of the canine in his feline personality).

        He does sleep most of the day, but he also acts as my desktop screen saver. Which is to say that whenever he thinks it’s time for food, he comes and sits on the desk in front of my computer (yes, it’s an old desktop Dell). The only way to move him is to physically put him on the floor, but that works for about two minutes. The best way is to give him a little food, after which he’ll lie down and sleep until the next feeding. In, oh say, 30 minutes or so.

        Max is the other house cat. He’s our teenager. He came into the house as an orphan less than 24 hours old. He was born and abandoned the same day and is the only survivor of a litter of four. For four weeks, he was on a three-hour feeding cycle around clock. Caring for him gave me a deep appreciation for the parents of human babies and for all the work usually done by a conscientious mother cat.

        Max is now two. A teenager. He’s the warbler and although they’re sometimes annoying, irritating, or infuriating, his serenades are also amusing. Who would ever have guessed at the variety of sounds (and decibels) that could come out of a cat’s mouth?

        As I write this, Max is sleeping in his usual spot. In the room, but silent. That won’t last for long. His afternoon feeding approaches. He’s likely to come sit beside my chair for a while. If I pay no attention (I am almost done after all), he’ll jump up on the arm of the sofa nearby. If that fails to separate me from work, he’ll assume the desktop screen saver position. He’s much larger than Thomas and is also a medium-long hair, so he’s a much more effective screen saver. Even when he chooses to sit down, which he rarely does.

        We also have a litter of four orphan kittens from this spring. If you’ve been following my writing assignments, you’ll already have met them. Oreo, Patches, Paulie, and Snip. They’re about twelve weeks old and have been under my care and custody for about ten weeks.

        They’re not as much trouble as Thomas or Max because they’re isolated in a backroom so I can keep track of them. But that doesn’t mean they lack an allure of their own. Who can ignore twelve-week kittens at play? Even when the entire house is between them and my work area?

        As if that weren’t bad enough, two of them, Patches and Paulie, take a peculiar delight in lap time. Whenever I appear, even just to look through the window at them, they come running. Now I ask you, who can ignore such supplications, especially when the supplicants are so cute?

        I expect, if they don’t find new homes, some of them may eventually be trained for screensaver duties by Thomas or Max.

        How will I ever get any work done when that happens?

  • http://fiction4hisglory.com Reagan Colbert

    I struggle with perfectionism every single day, and it has never gotten anything accomplished. this article puts to words the exact thing I have figured out over four years of writing. WRITE EVERY DAY. That’s the most important thing (And I have a hard time with that one, too. This is the first thing I’ve written all day)
    I have watched my own writing slowly become better over the years, so I am a living example of this.
    As soon as you sign up, you’re in this for life. Every single day.
    Joe, the way you write, your frankness and honesty about writing, is refreshing. I appreciate everything you do. Thanks so much!
    Reagan
    “Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not unto men”

    • Ioana Pitt

      I totally agree with you, Reagan. I’m a crazy perfectionist and it shows in everything that I do. I spend more time than necessary to make every single thing my best work. As a writer, I’ve found this to be often limiting because it discourages me from even starting in the first place.
      Have you heard of NaNoWriMo or Camp NaNoWriMo? It’s an extremely motivational way to get you writing every day. You might want to give it a try. I’ve found it really exhilarating experience to get you back into writing.

      • http://fiction4hisglory.com Reagan Colbert

        I’ve heard of it, but never really looked it up. I will now. Thanks, Joana, and I wish you the best with your writing. Let’s turn off our internal perfectionist!

    • http://www.franklywrite.com Cynthia Franks

      Reagan, check out my blog post Baby Steps on Franklywrite. I think it will help you.

    • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

      Yes, Reagan! Thank you!

  • https://www.cre84me.info Joana Pitt

    This post couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I haven’t written fiction for the past year, and have been instead in an essay/blogging phase. However, I recently signed up for the Becoming Writer contest which forced me to regain my past comfort with fiction writing and to rediscover my style in a short period of time. At first, I was fazed. I had no idea where to start. After giving my insecurities some thought and distance, though, I was able to come to the same conclusion that you discuss in the post.
    So, I’ve now decided to start writing fiction again, and instead of being perfect, I’m going to take it easy and simply write for the fun of it. We’ll see where that takes me! :-)

    Thanks for the thoughtful post, Joe!

    P.S. Here is a really great TED talk if you’re a huge perfectionist like me and sometimes doubt your work’s quality after having been away from it for a long time. It inspired me when I was feeling down. I don’t think I could link it because it will be seen as spam, but it’s called “Your elusive creative genius” by Elizabeth Gilbert.

  • Kenneth M. Harris

    I am employed with northwestern University for the last twenty five years. In college, my minor was business. I was forced to take classes in how to get along with your boss. How to work with the different personalities. In the beginning, I was skeptical of taking business courses. I only wanted to write fiction. Today, those business classes helped me in working and understand with various diverse men and women. There is many of and in order to make this work, it takes understanding the personality of all of them, one wants something right away. what is expected and, as I been taught, know right away what’s expected with each one. None of us likes to be told what to do. The key is to have everything that they need. I start my morning or week that way with each of them and present everything before they even asked. In this way, I never feel as if I’m ordered around. As far as quality and quantity, Joe, I aleady know that my writing right now anyway Has no quality. As long as I have been writing, I’, discovering that since I have been in the writing practice, Each prompt that I receive, I try to keep up even if I’m late. I REALLY THANK ALL OF YOU AND APPRECIATE ALL OF YOU FOR GETTING A QUARTER OF COFIDENCE.

    ken

    • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

      I see the improvement, Ken. And you do have quality!

  • http://www.abstractsbybrian.com/ aGuyWhoTypes

    OK, I get all of that, but here is my quandary. I have it made. My wife works and I stay home. I have all day to write and to “work” on my writing. I’m not one of these people who have been writing since age 13 and feel they have something to say. I just one day said, I want to write and I began. I’ve been writing for a little over a year.
    Do you think this quantity over quality hold true when all a person does is free write? I can’t write that fast and actually have a real story. I’m trying not to focus on story but more on slices of life and vignettes.
    I am dyslexic and have a terrible reading comprehension.
    I don’t know my path and in the mean time I keep free writing.

    • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

      Free writing is great, but I think you need to throw in something more structured as well. Why not try writing short stories or choose a few characters and serialize a novel?

  • Leah McCray

    I struggle with writing everyday. I’ll say to myself, get out your phone, tablet or computer and finish that book or start the next one, but one hour later I still haven’t written a word. But other days, I’ll sit down and will write or edit 4 hours straight. For me, It’s just so hard to start. Also, I get easily distracted. However, I really do believe that your advice is spot on and I am going to make a sincere effort to write everyday for more than just 20 mins. It’s also hard for me to write without a project. Your advice was just to write about anything to hone your skills and increase quantity. That’s been hard for me in the past, but I’m going to give it a whirl. Thanks so much for sharing. God bless you!

    • MadameGin

      We have the same problem, you and me. I just have such a hard time starting! Once I do, I’m on a roll, but it can be an hour of procrastinating before I even start to get anything done, and then, at the first distraction, poof, the spell’s gone. That’s how I ended up here, I wanted to grab a schedule, it didn’t matter whose, and stick to it to see if I could create a habit and get myself into a routine.
      I’ve already done my fifteen minutes today. I did better than I expected. I just wish I can keep it up! Now, I’m off to write something else while I still can, haha!
      Good luck to you!

      • Orion Lyonesse

        Try setting a definite time to write every day. At first, it’ll be like a chore, but do it anyway. After a time, you’ll be chaffing at the bit to get to the writing time! You could also use prompts to begin writing every day. It’s fun to create flash fiction (really short pieces, say, 500 words) to get your juices going. As a plus, the market for flash fiction seems to be unlimited right now.

  • http://UberQuality.com/ Jim Krenz

    > Do you focus on quality or quantity in your writing?

    I focus on what is needed in the moment. Sometimes that is quantity, sometimes it is quality. Listen to your heart.

  • Tiffany Shand

    I usually go for quantity in the beginning and then turn it into quality. That way your have a lot to work with and have a basic foundation which can then be improved.

  • MadameGin

    Well, here are my results for today. I don’t think they’re good, but at leat I did it! I hope to get better with time:

    So let this begin. You ask me to write about my work mates. Truth is, I don’t work, so I don’t have any. I could write about schoolmates? I don’t have either, I’m finished, but that’s all I’ve got.

    I have been told (by my father), that I don’t know how to work in a team. It’s fairly truth: I either need to be in charge, or alone. Tell me what my part is, and I’ll do it. Just don’t ask me anything, please. So I have a fairly good feeling that in a work environment I would behave similarly.

    The work of my dreams, actually, is being behind a counter somewhere. A shop, say. It’s an easy work, you don’t have to interact with anybody (in a deep sense), and you have time to do things between client and client. Say, read, or even write. Ideally, I’d like to be behind the counter of my own bookstore. I could work as a writer while being in an environment I love. And I don’t really mind being distracted, as long as it isn’t a long-term distraction. I can stop for a second to attend a client and then keep writing.

    Hell, I used to do it in school during breaks and between activities. It’s actually something good. “Fine! I now have fifteen minutes left until the next class, let’s use them to write!” It’s stimulating. Plus, it provides me with the warm-up I need to get me writing. It’s like one has some kind of motor memory that gets the juices flowing. Write something, anything, transcribe it if you must, and then get writing what you have to write. It works wonders, and that’s why I think this exercise is going to help.

    To tell the truth, I’m doing better than expected. I have still five minutes yet, and for the time since I started, I haven’t stopped for more than three or four seconds to think a word. I was expecting to be bumping more. Still, I think I’m kind of cheating now. I’m completely ignoring the subject and writing about what I’m doing instead, and that doesn’t require much thinking. I’m concentrating in not stopping, though, and I guess that isn’t bad. It’s my first time, after all, cut me some slack! I’m thinking that maybe I should write tomorrow’s assignment in the third person. This is way too easy. And not much of a practice, really. But that would be from a quality point of view. Today I’m not trying to write well, am I?

    Hey, now that I look at it, this is filled with typos! I just stopped to correct the word “assignment”, that was missing its n, and looking up I found a lot of words underlined with red. Wonder if I should stop or correct them later. Anyway, time’s up, so I guess it doesn’t matter anymore.

  • http://www.sacredoysters.blogspot.com Susan Anderson

    I think that’s why journaling is valuable. I recently finished a personal prayer pilgrimage, and kept a journal. The focus was to consecrate oneself totally to Jesus through Mary , following a guide by St. Louis De Monfort. Everyday a convicting scripture and meditation was provided. Every day the message was explosive! I couldn’t get enough. Like a.good book or retreat, I didn’t want it to end. I wrote everyday and in so doing, I wrote freely. Nobody else would see it, unless I decided to share it. Often I didn’t discover what prose lay dormant in my mind, and it certainly wasn’t perfect, but some of it I enjoyed going back over it and reading. It’s like building a body. It starts small and then the cells multiply, forming organs, bones, muscle, and skin…all layered and fearfully complex. Words
    building sentences and being the connective tissue to a message, a lesson and a story.

  • Godfrey Coppinger

    I’m a pre-school teacher, an old arthritic preschool teacher.
    I’ve always worked with children, as a babysitter, as a folksinger, as a
    storyteller. When I was a teenager my cousins would come to visit and we’d sit
    on my bed and I would read to them from picture books, comic books, anything
    they wanted to hear. I discovered storytelling as a “job” in the late
    70s, and became professional in 1980. Storytelling has taken me places, but I
    never made a lot of money. When I married, I was pretty sure my husband didn’t
    want to join me in near-poverty, so I looked around to find a real job. That is
    when I discovered that I could jump right in to a child care job with no
    official training. I worked and went to school to learn more. I never got a
    degree because I took more child development classes, to learn more and more
    and more, even though they told me I had enough. I also took classes that I
    found interesting, even though they had nothing to do with my major, like
    anthropology.

    I have now been teaching preschool for over 20 years, but it
    may be coming to an end. No, it’s definitely coming to an end. A couple of
    years ago I had knee replacement surgery and I’ve slowed down considerably. I
    can’t pick the children up any more and I can’t sit in those tiny little
    chairs. I’ve been a “floater” since the surgery, going from class to
    class, giving the other teachers their breaks. I take my instruments with me –
    guitar, Native American pocket flute, harmonica, kazoo – the kids love the kazoo.
    I even bought a smaller guitar because
    the big one was too heavy for this old lady to carry around.The children
    and all the teachers have told me that they love when I come into their
    classroom.

    So it was great surprise that I was told that I was “not
    performing in the classroom.” I am now working in the kitchen ,putting
    together the snacks and making sure each class has cups and whatever else they
    need. On the Friday that I was told about my new position, I was strong and
    brave. But that weekend I couldn’t stop crying! These kids are such a joy to
    me. They stop me in the hallway and say When are you coming to sing for us? Can
    you tell us a story?”

    But I can’t do that. I have other duties now, and it breaks my
    heart. But it is what it is. I have to work. At least I still get to see the
    kids. And, y’know what? They can’t stop me from coming in early or staying late
    to sing for the kids!

    A little off topic, but it’s very comforting to let it all out
    in a place where I know my boss won’t see it. Because I know she’s wrong. I
    know that was I brought to the classroom was of value, even if I’m old and
    slow.

    Oh, Good Lord, I think I may have to go somewhere and hide and
    cry now.

    • Erin Baker

      Oh, that stinks! My heart breaks for you and for the kids. It is amazing to me how sometimes people in charge can be so blind and clueless. They don’t think about joy and the gifts people are able to share and how others receive them. They think of wasted stuff that isn’t important. You are right, she can’t keep you from coming in early or staying late to sing and teach the children. Good for you for thinking outside the box to find a solution that works! I wish you the best!

  • https://eclecticscribblings66.wordpress.com/ Stephanie Ward

    I think, for most of us, the challenge is finding the right balance. I have been known to struggle with a single word choice for a ridiculous amount of time. Hence the oft-given advice to go ahead and give yourself permission to write a crappy first draft and get on with it. :-) On the other hand, if I don’t feel good about what I’m writing, I lose motivation.

  • Bob Ugee

    Joe thanks for the piece. I like it because it seems you are directly referring to me.

  • Kevin Keeney

    Here is my 15 minutes — I didn’t edit as I wrote, but I did correct spelling. I hope this is the first of many days in a row that I write for at least 15 minutes…

    The people I work with.

    I work in retail, in a chain pharmacy.
    I work with the pharmacist and other technicians and/or cashiers. I
    work for the pharmacist, he is my supervisor. But we also work
    together.

    He is unflappable, totally
    customer-service orientated. I admire him. I get so mad and
    frustrated with the idiotic customers, their inability to produce
    insurance information. Not him, he just keeps moving right along, not
    making waves. He is good to work with, we make a good team. We trust
    each other to do the job correctly and still have fun at the same
    time, when it is not too busy. I can’t imagine ever having a
    disagreement with him. The other technician and I laugh about how his
    being so nice is ruining our lives because the two of us are not so
    nice. We are not mean, but we at least mutter under our breath a lot
    at the stupidity that assaults us daily.

    The other technician I usually work
    with is nice. She is much younger than I, but actually everyone in
    the pharmacy is. I ended up with this job because I turned 50 and
    nobody would hire me in the computer field. She works there because
    she graduated from college and can’t get a job in her field. We tend
    to pick on each other to try and make the day go quicker. We have to
    stick together especially when we have substitute pharmacists who do
    not want to work and sometimes have no idea what they are doing,
    which creates more work for us and makes the customers mad.

    The pharmacist is on a diet, in a
    contest with his future son-in-law, so he just doesn’t eat. The other
    tech should be on a diet as she is overweight. I think she is trying,
    but it does not seem to be a priority. I should be on a diet too, but
    the urge for Starbucks wins on most days.

    Most days we have to work more than our
    scheduled hours since nobody but us idiots want to work there. So,
    sometimes we are overtired from a 12-hour shift, but we help each
    other out.

    None us believe that the customer is
    always right, but we certainly are not perfect either. It will be sad
    when one of us leaves for another job, it is hard to replace
    coworkers that are friends.

  • http://marknoldy.com/ Mark Noldy

    When you’re right, you’re right. I tell students all the time the best way to get good at math is to do math everyday! Yet I am still learning this lesson as a writer!

  • http://www.mudpiewriting.com/ Marcy Mason McKay

    I needed this reminder today, Joe. As I shared in a recent post, life got in the way and I fell off the writing wagon. It’s summer and CRAZY here with two teens home full-time, but I write 200 new pages on my novel — finishing my first draft. They are UGLY because I didn’t even go back and edit or revise at all. It’s going to be a HOT MESS to go back into, but I’m proud I typed THE END, despite all the chaos going on in my life.

    • http://www.franklywrite.com Cynthia Franks

      Re-commit every day! You will get there!

  • Pingback: Monday Must-Reads [08.24.15]()

  • http://www.dawncaval.com Dawn Atkin

    Spits and spurts? Quantity and quality. I write like a crazy woman for a while. Then I stop. Then I pick out bits and jazz them up.

    I find writing lots – quantity- works for my writing style. I have to write lots and lots to get into the flow. The more I wrote the better it gets. If I sit down to write a piece of quality work all my dragons enter the room and my creativity shrinks in fear, i close down, my pen shivers and retreats into the shadows and I am left with a page of dodgy phrases.

    So I go for the quantity purely as a tool for getting the juices flowing and as fodder for producing work of quality.

  • http://www.dawncaval.com Dawn Atkin

    At work. Again. Same people. Everyday.

    Bushy Beard humphs in through the door. In a rush. Grubby shirt, tousled wiry steel grey hair. Whiskers that spread down his cheeks, to his neck, to his belly that pokes through the broken buttons of his smeared and greasy shirt. Anxiety swirls around his 6 foot, large man frame, and fans us with its whirl of worry. He disappears into his corner. Closes the door. Shouts down the phone. And leaves again with nay a ‘hello’, ‘good morning’, or ‘good-bye’.

    “Thank god he’s not staying today. He’s wound up again. I’ll have to have a supervision meet with him later.” Committed activist, short haired, hiking shoe’d, feminist, environmentalist pushes away from her desk at the end of the reclaimed pine trestle.

    I smile. I shove my feet toward the warmth of the under desk radiator and pull myself closer to the desk.

    Ageing Admin Mouse peeks across the desk. Shuffles a small pile of invoices. Rearranges paper clips, smooths down the fine wisps of ash-grey hair to settle in their own withdrawing hairline. Gnashes her browning teeth. Then smiles. Her eyes change from grey to bright blue and light shines from their centre.

    I smile back.

    The phone rings. Junior clerk replies cheerily. Presses the wrong button. All the phones ring. We all smile.

    But Bushy Beard humphs back in with the wind of a worrier and the stomp of a wounded bull. We drop our heads, avert our gaze, and let his weather pass.

    My brow furrows. Another day at the office.

    I sigh.

  • Parker

    I am more focus on quality than quantity. But this is extremely limiting me. Many times i stare at a blank page, but I am seeking perfection to start me off with and I can see how this is interfering with my creativity. I have many ideas/thoughts, but they never make it to the page but I am concerned about perfection first then content later. I worry about subject, verb, direct object, using too many -ly ending words or using the same word too often, yada, yada, yada, yada and in so worrying my ideas just fly away into Lala Land instead of being a part of the my story.

  • http://www.franklywrite.com Cynthia Franks

    I could not a agree more. I do my best work when I am writing a lot. My proofreading also improves, to a point. It’s funny, I just a wrote a blog post about forming the writing habit that goes along with this idea. In fact, my entire blog is built on this premise.

  • https://concordriverlady.com concordriverlady

    Being one of the tallest employees at the deli, Jan’s height of six feet, six inches, was only surpassed by his arrogance. It didn’t help that he was handsome, with a shock of jet black hair and eyes that could stop a train running at full throttle. He used all his features to bully his coworkers, especially Amanda. Small in stature, it was her timidness that made her the perfect target for customers who wanted to vent their life’s frustrations on a service individual, and, of course, Jan. Each day he would devise some new plan to have her red-eyed from crying by closing time. It was only when Faith come on as the new full-time cashier that Jan met his match. Although she was average in height, only slightly over five-four, her face was angelic, round and pleasant, with a disarming smile. However, she possessed a tongue that could deliver a slashing comment with precision, which she aimed at Jan on a regular basis. By the end of her first week, he walked out in the middle of his shift and peace was restored at the deli.

    • Melvia Zeigler

      Great first draft writing. Your descriptions were wonderful. Most enjoyable read.
      Thanks for sharing.

      • https://concordriverlady.com concordriverlady

        Hi this is where I get stuck. What to change and what to keep.

  • https://concordriverlady.com concordriverlady

    Okay folks, I wrote my passage without any edits. I welcome comments. :)

  • Melvia Zeigler

    I have made it a part of my routine to write
    every single day, no exceptions. I stick
    to this commitment. It is really
    important to set aside time to write. I had to block off a small chunk of time
    to write or it wouldn’t happen. For me
    morning works best. However, if you’re a night owl, late nights are fine too,
    as long as you’re not too tired.

  • AnnM

    Thank you Joe. I agree with your post.
    Though I also struggle with perfectionism, quantity, practice, brings things into focus.

    I know the more I write, and read, I see what good writing is. Not just the grammar and punctuation, but moving people. Having them ‘see’ a scene, feel it when they read my work is amazing.

    I entered the contest here and the critiques I have received have been an incredible learning experience. I thought my story was pretty perfect when I put it in the workshop LOL. However I had lots of revisions and editing to do.

    The more I write, the more I realize my novel needs work. It’s hard to not go back to the beginning and re-write. I’m going through and doing an edit though and seeing where I want to change scenes for the better and will do that later.

    Quantity first! Quality…….eventually.

  • Lauren Timmins

    My job is different, I am paid in knowledge rather than money as a student. My day starts with The Boss. The boss of all bosses. My mom.

    We both set our alarms for 5:45, however she succeeds in waking up whereas I hide under the covers until the last possible minute. I rush around to get ready and make too much noise, she tells me to quiet down and makes something I can eat in 30 seconds, briefs me on what I’ll need to do when I get home or who will retrieve me from marching band, then I go.

    My first block is a computer class. My teacher is a short woman, a veteran mother with two kids in their first year of college. She has shoulder length auburn hair and glasses. Her voice is commanding, she moves with purpose. Despite her initial military-like appearance, she is very laid back and understanding. She uses the full hour and a half to teach us and lets us go with no homework.

    Honors English is next, and this class requires interaction with people. There is the same mix of students, the “smart kids”. On the first day we were assigned four people who we will work with exclusively throughout the year. The first is a Romanian who is known for knowing a little too much about computers. He is tall, lanky, and has rectangular glasses. The next is a trans-gender boy. He has a round face, short, rust colored hair with sienna lowlights and straw colored highlights. His voice is unique; soft with a deeper edge. The third I have been friends with him since eighth grade. He always sports a witty graphic t-shirt and curly blond hair that comes halfway down his neck. The last is a girl I’m in marching band with. She plays the flute. Her hair is dark brown, but she had it ombred to a golden color. Deep brown eyes, always dressed well. I work with her on a Venn Diagram comparing and contrasting two characters.

    Next I have an AP class, then lunch. I sit at a table with nine other people; the table is only meant for six or seven, but we make it work. We are a ragtag group. Gamers, band nerds, emos, Wholocks, and Anime fans. There is a girl with short blue hair, the t-shirt boy from English, my CSGO obsessed best friend, the one and only male flute player/socialist, and the saxophone and mellophone who we all hope to see as a couple. I argue with the flute/socialist about Bernie Sanders. I remind him that things are not really free, that the “free” things are just paid for by higher taxes, and that there is no way he can win the Democratic nomination. He rolls his eyes and starts making fun of the Republican party and tries the old, “Trump is your leading nominee, that pretty much shows what the Republicans are.” I start to counter with other nominees, like Marco Rubio and Ben Carson, but my best friend shushes me and pulls me into a conversation with the mellophone player.

    The saxophone player and mellophone player are in my band class. The mellophone hits on the saxophone, who, despite her small size, shoves him playfully away and threatens him with a mouthpiece up his rear.

    My last class I cannot say much about en anglais. Je voyage a la classe de francaise. Ma prof est petite, blonde, et gentille. Les autre etudiants sont intelligent mais tous dans cliques.

    I stay at school for another two hours for marching band, which is the closest thing to a real job I have. Our band director wears size thirteen pointy shoes, which he uses to demonstrate how high our toes should be. He sits atop a scissor lift and barks directions into a headset. “Clarinets, shoulders.” “Trumpets, stop talking!” “RUN IT BACK.” He is a portly man, with clear blue gray eyes that are very good at expressing displeasure while simultaneously striking fear into the hearts of the entire band. There are three or four other staff members roaming the field, searching for imperfections. I am usually reprimanded once a week for my shoulders being angled, rather than flat-to-front during slides.

    I get home, and I have to watch my siblings for a little while. I fight for the computer with my 12 year old brother, who always has headphones in and believes he can make it in the world as a YouTuber. “I have homework.” I say, and he whines and whines and demands I turn it back over to him when I’m finished. The nine year old is tinkering with something and fighting with my seven year old sister at the same time. They run around the basement screaming their little heads off while the 12 year old replaces the computer screen with a television. Before I know it it’s 10:00pm, and I have to go to bed to start the whole thing over again in the morning.

  • https://www.linkedin.com/in/dawnvslayton dawnvslayton

    Profound thoughts are unsettled in my head. They struggle to flow with the ink onto that blank sheet. Then — nothing. I have got so much to write but the words ‘just arent right’ to get them down to make the story happen. My personal struggle – fighting the pen; fighting the mind. Sharing my voice with community – writing here and other writing sites – has lowered my fear. Write more! Write better! Write lots! It all comes together ON PAPER !!