Quantity and Quality are often framed as opposites. Capital A Artists want to hate on Quantity, wanting to resist the war for attention in Content Culture. And I get it…there are no shortage of people releasing more stuff for stuff’s sake. To feed the machine. Plenty of work comes out half-baked…first thought=best thought. Good enough. Move on.
You could also think of Quantity/Quality as living on a spectrum, and the artist’s job is to find their balance on the sliding scale. If you focus only on quantity and you’ll never take the time necessary to complete your best work. The magnum opus. Quality.
The other option, which I prefer, is to consider them a direct relationship: more of one equals more of the other. More stuff=more better stuff.
There are plenty of cliches and anecdotes that point in this direction, but this is the worldview of the thinkers, writers, and artists that I admire most…
- People like Seth Godin, has been blogging daily (literally, daily) for over 10 years on top of the books, the podcasts, the TED talks.
- People like Beethoven, who racked up 650+ compositions over his lifetime. Who cares if the average person can only name a handful if those pieces they’re naming are among the most all-time famous pieces of music?
- Elton John has released over 450 songs in the last 40 years. The 5-10 that most people can name are among the most iconic songs of the last century, and the 74 year-old just had another top-ten single.
It’s not about throwing darts at the dartboard and seeing what resonates with your audience. It’s about getting comfortable with the feeling of making bad work and powering through that feeling because that’s the only way to bridge the gap. Inevitably, eventually you make enough bad work that something good will sneak through. That’s the feeling you’re hoping to latch onto, and hope that your audience feels the same way about it.
Turns out it’s extremely difficult to build this practice…to get over the fears (of success or failure), the distraction, and whatever other mental hurdles we create to get in the way of our best work. But it’s a new year. It’s a new week to start fresh, and you can only hope to approach your potential as the years go by. What else is there? So here’s the start of another practice, this blog — hopefully one practice serves the others.