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For the first time in a while, I have made quite a bit of progress in writing my book. For the last two weeks or so, I have forced myself to try and write at least 2,000 words a day, regardless of how I am feeling or how good I think the writing is coming out. Using this method, I have made quite a bit of progress wordcount-wise and have gotten near the end of the first act of my first book. However, although I have made a lot of progress in sheer word count, I have found that the quality of my writing has greatly suffered over the last few days.

I have found out via personal experience that the quality of my writing takes a nose dive if I force myself to write under a deadline. Heck, I will even admit that in the past I have written random gibberish just to reach the word count deadline on some days.

Furthermore, due to the fact that I'm a pantser, the effect of my bad writing has a rippling effect: If I have an off day and write something terrible, I either have to discard an entire large section of finished writing, or spend time re-writing that I could have used making new prose.

I understand that, in order to become a professional writer "which is my career goal" I will have to be able to write under deadlines all the time. But, I have simply never been able to find a "groove" where I not only have a high daily output of words but also have said words be of a high quality.

It is currently not an option for me to slow down my current pace due to the fact that I have established my writing routine out of necessity: my second year of college is coming up and I won't have enough time to write during the fall.

I guess what I'm trying to ask is this: how can I learn how to write high-quality stories while also writing under a deadline?

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  • You may want to expand upon in what way the work is not good. Random keyboard mashing aside, when you're not "cheating" to make your word count, why isn't the work usable? (And how non-salvagable is it? "Writing is rewriting", so it's not unexpected that the first draft is significantly different from the final version.)
    – R.M.
    Jul 12, 2023 at 12:20
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    Frame Challenge: you are training yourself to write quantity, not quality. Now that you've proved you can keep typing until you fill the page, how can you redesign the practice for certain specific goals that you feel you want to hit in quality (ie: a certain tone, a certain characterization, a certain kind of subtext, an unreliable narrator, an inner monolog, etc etc)
    – wetcircuit
    Jul 12, 2023 at 17:07
  • @R.M. I guess that the writing is "not good" due to the fact that the book's plot, characters, emotions, and grammatical properties are not up to my usual standards: "She rolled under neath it. It misse.d She could feel the rage as it bashed its palm against the floor in frustrations, she made her way still further down the stars." Here is an example of my writing when I'm working under a deadline. The core idea is still "there," but it is filled with character, plot, spelling, and grammatical mistakes that make the overall writing of lower quality. Structurally, it just doesn't work. Jul 12, 2023 at 19:43
  • I'd say you need to hit the following keys on your keyboard: G O O D w o r k c o n s i s t e n t l y
    – Martin
    Jul 13, 2023 at 10:59

3 Answers 3

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You Don't

You can't write "finished draft" quality work the first time, every time. No one can.

Aim for Adequate, then Edit

Instead, you can write adequate work, and then edit it into shape.

My suggestion is to lower your word count goal, and spend some portion of your writing time re-working the previous day's work. Or pick one day a week for all editing and no new progress. Or whatever works for you.

Don't Discard Work

Don't "discard an entire large section of finished writing" - find the kernel of goodness in it and fix it. Figure out which idea, or turn of phrase, or interaction is good, and rework that section to make it even better.

In fact, discard the idea of "finished writing." Art is never finished, it just arrives at the point of diminishing returns for the artist's efforts, and they abandon it.

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My advice is that you're putting far too much on yourself. You're trying to be fast, good and pantsing, all with pretty minimal writing experience.

You need to decide which of these things you need to focus on most - the word count target is useful, but as you've found out, forcing yourself to write can be counterproductive in terms of quality.

If you're a pantser, then you need to be willing to throw work away. It just happens that way. Even a planner has to accept that work will get thrown away sometimes. Writing is rewriting, as the saying goes.

Everyone is different in their approach. Part of improving as a writer is practice, but also better understanding your own process.

Perhaps you can choose a new set of goals for yourself - "finishing my book to a high level before autumn" sounds unrealistic. If you're willing to just bang out a draft, fine. That's a perfectly good process, but you need to accept that means you'll need to go back and redraft it multiple times before it's anywhere near 'complete'. (Novels are never completed, only abandoned, as another saying goes)

A possible alternative is to accept that what you're doing right now is practicing writing a novel. So it's all about you improving as a writer, learning about what works best for you, and that any story you get out of it may or may not be any good. (Hell, even Neil Gaiman says not all of his work)

If it helps at all, it's way easier to edit and improve something that's already on the page, than write something from scratch. If you can get even a bad draft out, you have years ahead of you to get it into shape as a finished novel.

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The most important part of writing good work implicate choosing a good subject, leaving nothing open to misinterpretation as vague work confuses readers while disrupting your productivity.

A good work provides clear, precise, and comprehensive information. This means that it can be read and understood immediately. To ensure comprehension, it should be avoided to use acronyms, multi-syllable words, and unexplained technical terms.

Strive to thoroughly understand the tasks you’re writing about so you can describe them in a few words. Brevity equals simplicity. Ensure readers have easy access to it because failing to make it accessible will leave your entire efforts unknown.

Make it consistent with the use of clear methodology, terminology, and layout. Your work should be accurate, helpful, and credible. Let it match the reality of your topic. Rather than offering textual information, consider including visuals – readers are often more comfortable consulting visual media than multi-page texts.

To conclude, bear in mind that developing good work should never lie with a single person. The best-written processes include the input of several stakeholders to ensure all of the above characteristics are met.

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    Welcome to Writing.SE! As you said, brevity equals simplicity, so we prefer answers to get straight to the point. We don't need to know who you are or what you do for a living, we just need to know what your answer to the question is.
    – F1Krazy
    Jul 12, 2023 at 6:41
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    Most of this sounds like advice for writing a document in a business setting. OP is writing fiction.
    – MJ713
    Jul 12, 2023 at 14:06
  • How can you manage to write anything without multisyllable words? Perhaps try to write your answer with only single syllable words, as an example of how to do it. Besides which, why would you want to?
    – Basya
    Jul 13, 2023 at 9:52

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