Monday, March 18, 2013

Blogging: Quality vs. quantity

I have heard that quality and quantity can go hand in hand.  In context of writing, the idea is if you write often, then there is a higher chance of writing an article of higher quality.  Also writing more will help you be more disciplined and learn the skill of writing clearly faster.

This is obviously this is true if you don't write anything versus dedicate time to write something.  If there is no writing, the quality of writing is non-existent.  It is the worst possible case.  As you write more, you are taking more shots.  Assuming that your writing quality is not even, there are bound to be some qualitative fluctuation.  Therefore there are bound to be some higher quality writings and some lower quality writings.

But that can be said about anything.  Statement like that can be made about any normal distribution.  There will be some above average, some below average.

While I certainly believe that I have better days at writing a readable blog entry and many more worse days, I don't get a feeling that I am somehow getting better at improving my batting average in writing a high quality piece.  If anything, as I do more of them, I'm seeing more flaws in my thought process and running into limitation of my English language.  It does not seem like the case at all that I am getting better at writing.

What I am getting better at is two things:

  1. Finding a topic that I am going to write about
  2. Realizing that true quality is only attainable through many revisions (aka iterations)

If topic is right, I can start writing without really thinking about what I am going to say. The narrative takes over, and I just have to let it carry my writing.  It feels almost like I'm just sitting down on my laptop and someone else is telling me what to write.  Picking a topic like that as opposed to something that I have to rationally think about the points that I'm making makes all the difference in my writing process.  If I pick a wrong topic, I could spend hours just thinking about how to start the story.  If I pick a right one, I could wrap up writing the first draft in 20 minutes.

The next realization is little more profound.  I found that revising and rewriting the story is the only way to increase the writing quality.  It's almost like iteration in software engineering.  Once you have a working product, you want to get it out to customers and start collecting feedback.  Once you have written something, you want to get someone else to review and provide feedback.

The easiest thing that you can do is to become your own reader.  Proof reading is one easy way to do this, and that's analogous to you using your own product and improving the quality based on your observation.  Only when you take a look at your work objectively and start revising, that's when the quality starts to improve.

Quality has something to do with quantity.  But quantity alone does not improve quality.  It's repeated attempt to improve something that increases the quality.

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