In the argument of quantity vs quality, I’ve seen a shift over to the quantity side and I agree with a lot of their arguments. Let’s go through them.
The argument I’ve been seeing lately is not that quality isn’t valuable, but that the mindset of producing few high quality things isn’t an efficient way to learn. It leads to a lot of wasted time polishing potential bad foundations when you could move on and try again. Rather, you should produce a lot so that you get quality through quantity.
It reminds me of a behind the scenes interview with a National Geographic photographer. Wildlife photography is notoriously difficult because you have no control over your subjects, but they managed to get about 16 absolutely stunning images for the article. Perfect light, composition, action, storytelling. How did they manage this? Did they have a bunch of fancy equipment? Are they incredibly lucky or skilled? Well, yes, they did have the equipment and skill and the opportunity, but the reason they could get those 16 perfect shots is they chose the absolute cream of the crop from something like 4000. Quality out of quantity. If they waited and only took 16 of what they thought were perfect images, they would have missed out on some of the best moments.
Now that analogy isn’t entirely 1:1 because in art you do have control over your production, but the point is to give yourself the opportunity to produce those absolute gems by sheer dint of volume.
The other analogy that’s often brought up is the story of a university pottery professor teaching a beginner class. They split the class into 2 groups, one group tasked with making the best clay pot they could, and the other with making as many clay pots as possible graded by weight. The first group spent most of their time researching, planning and thinking and produced a couple of pots in the last week, while the other immediately jumped on the wheel and started churning out pots. In the end, it turned out the group marked on quantity also had the best pots among them. Their practice led them to improve their ability, and having no expectations led to experimentation. Some didn’t work, but it didn’t matter because they still contributed to the weight. Every finished pot was a success in its own way. And sometimes, everything clicked and they made the best pots of the lot.
The best results come out of a focus on process, working on your ability rather than the final product. Improvement from iteration. Progress from practice.
Now just making lots of things doesn’t necessarily guarantee improvement, you’re not going to get better making the same mistakes over and over. You have to be actively trying to shore up your weak points, double down on your strengths and experiment with new ideas, but as long as there’s that drive you’ll figure it out.
So get out there, and Produce! Make stuff, even if it’s bad, even if it gets no attention, even if no one gets it. It’s all a step on the road, a step on the journey taking you that one step closer to your destination. Just keep walking, and who knows what gems you might discover. I can’t wait to see it.