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Is There a Correlation Between Speed and Quality?

For the hundredth time, my name is Berin and I am a hack writer. I write for money, and to make a living I must generate a lot of content quickly. This does not mean that I am unconcerned with quality. Nor does it mean that my work is not good. There is no correlation between speed and quality.

Some people have a misconception that it takes years to write a good book. Not months. Not weeks. Certainly not days. These are largely the same sorts of people who still believe that creators must suffer for their art. That choosing to be a creator is an inevitable descent into poverty and despair.

Yeah, tell that to bestselling and beloved author Nora Roberts. In 2019 she released 5 new novels. Ray Bradbury is said to have written Fahrenheit 451 in 18 days — 9 for the original novella, ‘The Fireman’, and another 9 to expand it to novel length. Belgian author Georges Simenon, who wrote the Jules Maigret novels, reportedly took less than two weeks to complete each book. Most of Philip K. Dick’s novels each took about a week to write.

Meanwhile, fans continue to wait for the next installment of A Song of Ice and Fire from George R. R. Martin. Whether that extra time makes them better novels is entirely up for debate. I’ve venture to guess that expectations increase the longer the delay, so many people will ultimately be disappointed.

Correlation Between Speed and Quality

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About Berin Kinsman

Berin Kinsman is a writer, game designer, and owner/publisher at Dancing Lights Press. An American by accident of birth, he currently lives in Finland with his wife, artist Katie Kinsman.

Create Journal

Writing Every Day

Do you have designated days off from writing, or do you write every day? I’m a hack. If I don’t write every day, the bills don’t get paid. I also wouldn’t have time to work on the things I want to write, as opposed to the things I get paid to write.

That said, I tend to get very little writing done on Mondays. That’s business and accounting day. I’m trying to spend less time writing, and more time reading, on the weekends. If I were more financially stable, I would like to have more normative office hours and take Saturday and Sunday off. That’s not economically feasible for me right now.

Writing Every Day

I need to go back to that distinction I made, too. There is writing that I do strictly for money. It’s not that I don’t do my best, or lack passion for what I’m doing. The choices I make, in terms of both the project I pick and the what I approach the project, are more market-driven than artistically motivated. In short, I work on things that I think will sell, and write them in a way that’s commercially palatable.

The things I write for me are things I’d never find a market for. They’re done purely as acts of artistic expression. I write what I want, the way I want. If I don’t write every day, I won’t even have time to do that writing.

The Merry Writer is a writer’s game on Twitter run by Ari Meghlen (@arimeghlen) and Rachel Poli (@RPoli3). Each day there’s a new question, and each month there’s a new theme. In these posts I expand upon the answers that I’ve posted on my Twitter.