Quantity vs. Quality

“A poem is never finished, only abandoned.” 

-Paul Valéry

 

Quantity or quality? That’s the golden question when it comes to creating art. 

The former would mean sharing your work consistently, no matter good or bad. And the latter would mean doing so only when your work is good or up to your standards.

No one way is better than the other. There isn’t a black-and-white answer to it. But personally, I believe it does depend on your particular work, and it’s also just about finding a good balance between the two if you could.

For example, you probably wouldn’t to make quantity your focus when it comes to major projects.

Take video games for example. Assassin’s Creed games are good, but they have never been great, and this can be traced back to their yearly-release schedule. A lot of the games had great potential — compelling concepts and characters, fun gameplay — but at the end of the day, they were passion projects that were unfortunately rushed.

If only the developers had worked on the games longer, they would have brought much more depth to them, and they would have fixed all the ugly bugs. Instead, they’ve repeated the same mistakes, game after game, not knowing where they went wrong. 

Conversely, think of the best games such as God of War and Red Dead Redemption II. These games took at least 5 years to make, because the developers knew that they didn’t have to rush anything, and they made the most of their time making things right and working on the smallest details. 

Though, I’m not saying quantity is something that you should ever ignore. As an artist, it’s essential for you to keep working your muscle, because in a lack of urgency, it will wane, and you would find yourself in creative slumps that can be extremely hard to get out of. 

I’m suggesting that you must find a way to share your work consistently — to strike a good balance between quantity and quality.

Perhaps you could focus on quantity when it comes to regular practices, and quality when it comes to major projects.

Let me share a bit of my experience in writing on this blog. It used to be that I wanted every single article to be great, and I tried to do that every week. Eventually I ended up burning myself out, and I didn’t write for months at a time. 

Later on I found a solution that worked for me. By default, I focus on quantity. I treat this blog as a practice field. I write every single week, and I do all I can to make each article the best it could be. Sometimes, it still doesn’t turn out to be a good or exciting article, and that’s okay for me. 

Every now and then I have ideas for articles that I’m really excited about. They’re what I consider the big ones — they need additional research, and they require me to work myself to the bone. And those are the ones that I reserve the utmost quality for. I work on them little by little, and if I feel that I’m not ready to share it, I’d just write a different article that’s up to my current capability for the week, and when that’s done, I would continue refining it. 

So, try to experiment on what works for you. If you write poems, for example, then make a habit of sharing small ones every week or so — put out a simple riff or whatever you have on your mind at the moment. Every once in a while you might have a major idea, so you could take your time to slowly work on that, without disturbing your habit of sharing every week. 

 

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