It took me five years to write seven books in the World of Myth series; a year for the first novel, half a year for the seventh, and between those two lies my improvement. Well, I still have eleven (thirteen?) more books to write, and after finishing my seventh book, I decided I didn't want to take another five and half years to write them all.
So I made the grave yet necessary mistake to force myself to write each and every day.
Here was my plan. The books in my World of Myth series average about 100k words, which is just perfect. It's enough to make a full story but short enough so that I still make some profit charging just $9.99 for each paperback copy. I like consistency, so hence I'll be sticking with that average throughout the series. So my idea was this: if I wrote 2k words per day and edited 10 pages a day, I could pump out a finished novel every 2 months! That means that instead of spending five and half years finishing this series, I'd only spend two!
Just two years of writing 2k words a day to finish eleven books? Pssh! I could do that! And I was right, I could, and it was a terrible choice that taught me something very valuable.
For book 8 in the World of Myth series, I went to town and started writing 2k words a day. It didn't have to be all in one sitting, but my head didn't hit the pillow until 2k words have been pushed out onto the paper. At first it was exhilarating, accomplishing so much so quickly. I could feel the habit growing and the ease with which I was reaching my goal. I knew that without a doubt, I'd have this book finished by the time I left for Europe in September 2015. I was proud of myself, really, up until I started examining my work.
You see, at 30k words into book 8, I realized that the scene I was about to write should actually be occurring at about 50k words in. If I wrote this particular scene now, I'd be lost as to what to do next. Something had gone wrong in my writing, and I self examined it to determined what was happening. I thought about what I'd written and compared it to other books, and I found that in my hurry to put down so many words, I was essentially writing nothing but fluff. I had about 30k worth of shallow material and was missing about 20k worth of anything deep.
No character development, no rounding out people. The villain was dull and flat, the previous great side characters had nothing to say or add to the story. The main character was lacking conflict and depth. The scenery struggled to come to life. The only thing that had done well was moving the story along and also the combat scenes, which I've always shined at. This entire book of 30k words just ended up being one action scene to the next, like a series of shorthand events in a dull history book, or like some kind of moving flash cards.
In my pursuit of quantity, I had indeed sacrificed quality. It felt terrible. It felt like I'd betrayed my work and my (eventual) readers.
So I'm taking a break. I'm not writing today, tomorrow, the day after that, NOR the day after that. When I return, I will re-read this pile of crap I've pushed out and decide what (if anything) I can salvage and save.
But honestly, I might just delete it all.
I will not call it a waste, though. This was a necessary experiment to determine just how much I could push the line. I've found the line . . . behind me . . . so now I will back track to it and make sure I toe this sucker from here until the end of the series. I will write good work. I will make these books fun to read. I will be proud of them.
Quality over quantity, damn it!