When it’s quantity instead of quality that counts

Since coming back from AWP, I’ve been in a heightened state of thesis panic. My defense date (which hasn’t actually been set yet since the grad office is dragging their feet apparently—but that’s another story) is looming ever closer, and for some reason, coming back from the conference really threw that into sharp focus for me, resulting in a minor (or not so minor) panic attack in the office last week. (Though I’m not the only one; I hear other of my fellow conference attendees have had similar mental breakdowns since returning to Washington.)

So now I’m churning out pages, and for the first time in my life, I find I’m able to keep to a strict writing regimen of at least two pages, six days a week.

I know that won’t seem like a lot to everyone—maybe to most people—but it’s been a big change for me, who, in the past, has participated in more of a binge-writing lifestyle. But I’m nearing the end, and for a few months, I was stalled; it seemed that every time I sat down to write that I had fewer pages than the last time. So for now my concern has to be getting raw pages down. I’m still focusing on the writing, of course—it seems that I’m incapable of doing the 5,000 words a day I could sometimes manage back when I wrote for NaNoWriMo—but my biggest concern is churning out new material every day.

It’s a new way of writing this thesis for me, but I think it’s ultimately good and I wonder why it took me so many months to get to this spot. How do you handle when circumstances mandate a change in your writing? Are there certain times in the first draft when you care more or less about quality?

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