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Quantity, Not Quality

IWSG badgeThis post is part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog hop. The first Wednesday of every month is Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. The awesome co-hosts for the December 3 posting of the IWSG are Heather Gardner, T. Drecker from Kidbits, Eva E. Solar at Lilicasplace, and Patsy Collins!

Few authors are successful with their first book. And by that, I don’t mean the first book they sell, I mean the first book they write. Not many authors sell and make good off the very first thing they write in their entire life ever. If there are any authors like this, it’s best to steer clear of them because they’ve obviously sold their soul to Satan (if I sold my soul to Satan for literary success I’d ask Satan to give me the book fully written, so I didn’t have to do all that work and could just spend my time rolling around in the money).

Most writers have a pile of things they acquire before they ever make their first sale: a pile of rejections, a pile of half-finished scrapped manuscripts, a pile of completed manuscripts that will never see the light of day, a pile of anxiety and self-doubt and proclamations they will never be accepted. That’s why I say writing is about quantity, not quality: the quantity of things that didn’t work out makes you, hopefully, some day the quality writer you want to be. You know what they say about getting to Carnegie Hall, right?

You always hear the stories from famous writers, citing how many rejections they accumulated before they made a sale. I couldn’t tell you how many I had because I sure wasn’t counting all those failures, but they were a lot. I have so many completed books that were ‘just practice’ too, even though at the time I was convinced they were going to be snatched up by some publishing house and I’d be a millionaire. Most of them are languishing away on old 3.5 disks and on actual paper, because I’m an old woman who was writing before you kids and your computers with your fancy word processing programs. I even have typewritten manuscripts gathering dust in my closet. None of these things will ever be published, but they got me to the publishing sucess I have today. I keep them around to remind me nothing worth having comes without a lot of hard work and failures first.

So even if you have a pile of rejections and false starts, don’t despair. Climb on top that pile and keep building it, because you can see so much better from up there.

Megan Morgan View All

Urban fantasy and paranormal romance author.

22 thoughts on “Quantity, Not Quality Leave a comment

  1. Yep, I’ve got that pile in my closet, too. I’ve even got some of those old word processing discs. 🙂 But you’re right – all of those manuscripts and stories and rejections – and acceptances! – are the foundation we build our writing careers on today.

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  2. This concept is starting to make sense to me now, especially since I’ve been keeping track of my lifetime word count. You just have to keep on writing until something ends up being marketable. That might mean decades of keeping at it, but it won’t happen otherwise. 🙂

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  3. Great post — perfect for this monthly meeting. I think all the rejection & work & rejection & heartache & rejection is there to see who really, truly wants it. No sissies allowed in this writing biz.

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  4. I’m blown away at how awful some of my old first drafts are. It’s going to take so much work to turn them into a better product. Some of the even-older books and WIPs I wrote aren’t even worth radical editing and restructuring. Though I do have plans to resurrect some of my long-shelved characters and their stories from 20+ years ago, my 19th and 18th century characters whom I really thought I’d never work with again. I figure they were meant to be if I could never forget them; it just wasn’t the right time in my life yet to write their stories the way they needed to be written.

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    • I get where you’re coming from. I look back at some of my old stuff and just cringe. But at the same time, I wonder if they can be saved. Good luck! I hope you can bring your old characters back!

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  5. You’re preaching to the choir, Megan! I have a pile of rejections as well and thank the Lord my first novel will never see the light of day. Whoo! I shudder to think. I think that sometimes people just get lucky. There’s nothing wrong with that but people who sell their first book are certainly the exception. Most of us have to work hard to get where we want to be.

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  6. Oh, yes… my first published was #7. I’ve also published 9, 10 and 13. My first 5 I probably never will, and the rest have revisions to go before they are ready (I’ve written 16, plus a few halves)… not an easy thing to do, getting those babies ready to get out there….

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  7. When we do hear of these overnight successes with first books I suspect that’s just hype and the authors have also produced plenty of words they couldn’t sell.

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  8. Hahaa…so true! Megan, good Post. I also have piles of rejections. I had to chuckle about a writer selling their soul to satan. The debut author who grabs an agent asap and whose first book hits the best sellers list is so mind boggling!!! And that’s not really how it works, at least not in my world.

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