Quantity Versus Quality
A high school pottery teacher split his class in half. To one half he told them they only had to produce one perfect pot by the end of the semester and they would get an A. He turned to the other class. They had to produced fifty pounds of pots by the end of the semester. It didn’t matter whether the pots they made were good or not. They had to be pots and there had to be fifty pounds of them.
By the end of the year, who do you think produced the best pot?
It’s really a question of what makes better work, quality or quantity?
I recently got back from a year-long trip around the world with a big group of people. One day in the Transylvanian mountains of Romania, one of my friends asked for some advice. “I want to be a writer. How do you do it?”
“Write every day,” I said. “Do you do that?”
“No, but I have a lot of ideas for good books.”
“That’s not enough. To be a writer, you have to write. Every day.”
He didn’t bring up the subject for a couple of months. I thought I had scared him off when he came up to me in Turkey. He had spent two weeks writing a novel, and wanted my advice.
“How much have you written?” I asked, expecting about five or six pages.
He replied, “One-hundred and fifty pages single-spaced.”
Holy crap. There I was struggling to write a page a day and he was writing ten a day. Later that year, he wrote three-quarters of a movie script and five episodes of a TV series. I saw some of his stuff and it had plenty of flaws, but in the meantime, I only had written a few blogs, a dozen pages in a novel, and another two dozen of worthless crap.
It’s a question of what makes better work: quantity or quality?
Who produced the best pot in the class? The quantity people or the quality people? The quality people spent hours on a single pot, throwing it and rethrowing it. But by the end, none of them had made a perfect pot. The quantity people on the other hand, made so many pots so quickly that over time they figured out how to do it right. By the end of the semester, they could throw the perfect pot.
And my friend? He’s starting to become a better writer than me. Now, I’m asking him for writing advice.
For fifteen minutes, write as much as you can about the people you work with. Do you ever have any conflicts with them? What do they look like? What are your interactions like? Don’t edit. Just write.
Make sure you post your practice in the comments. Let’s see who can write the most!