Quantity over Quality (or under it?)
I am doing NaPo, and I have a problem.
The problem isn’t that I’m doing NaPo, despite some snarky comments I’m sure you’ve prepared for me. My problem is the issue of quantity over quality. NaPo, like it’s sister NaNo, asks for a lot of words in the month and often ignores the stringent desires of the writer for quality. NaPo says “The perfect line isn’t going to happen in one day, just write!” and “It doesn’t matter if it’s bad, just put it down” as well as “Lol, another haiku”.
When the game encourages the downplay of quality and instead wants us to focus on quantity – are we in trouble?
Some darling NaPoers are going to tell me this is silly, that as long as we’re writing we’re doing something, we’re engaging our brains and our creativity for the good! This is true, any writing we do is going to be positive for our development in the long run. More to the point though, to make anything good out of low quality quick poems, we have to edit. Many poets I have met have an almost allergic reaction to editing – they have to get out the epi-pen before they can even begin. I love editing, but that’s a gush for another day. It seems that there is more work in writing poems which will only yield perhaps one good line against writing slower poems and taking in many lines of solid poetry.
This isn’t to say I disagree with NaPo’s existence! I certainly love writing these poems and having the constant motivation to complete a large collection of work, even in such a short time. I often feel like at the end I’ll have 30 poems, and even if only 5 of those are usable, I will have many more lines I can take from poems which didn’t work out well. I’ll have the knowledge that I CAN write a slew of poems in a short amount of time (some just on the wire) and that I have that capacity for consistency. Maybe one day I’ll learn to write a good poem per week, and my NaPo poems will increase in quality as I work on that quantity.
Experience and practice make us better writers. So while I don’t enjoy knowing some of my poems will be half done or haikus which are really senryus, I still know in the end I’m going to be developing further. My skill and my brain are happy for NaPo, because it pushes them both. What do you think? Should we give up on NaPo or is it worth it in the long run?