Goal Setting for the New Year (Part 2)

In my last post, I talked about starting off my goal setting activity with Josh Spector’s Manifesto for Creative People which I made into an infographic.

This time, I’d like to adapt the Quantity Leads to Quality Principle.

Can you see what I’m doing here?
I’m laying the grounds, so to speak, for a more sturdier, firmer, stronger foundation for my goals.
What good will this do? Well, for one, it’ll make me more determined, focused, centered, and motivated.
Instead of just plunging on to planning the things I want to achieve next year, I’m sort of giving myself a powerful pep talk first, which I hope will sustain me for the entire year ahead. 
One of these “powerful pep talks” is the principle that QUANTITY LEADS TO QUALITY. 

Goal Setting and The Quantity Leads to Quality Principle

The principle of Quantity Leads to Quality may be viewed as running counter to the principle of producing quality works.
But in close inspection, it really does not.
The Quantity Leads to Quality principle does not say that quantity upends quality. Of course, writers should always strive for producing quality.
What, then, does this principle tell us?
That producing in quantity can lead to quality creations. 
Here’s the parable behind this.

The Parable of the Principle

I first came upon the Quantity Leads to Quality principle from author Austin Kleon, who discussed the parable about creative work which brought it to life. It was in the book Art & Fear written by David Bayles and Tom Orland.

Here is the Parable:

The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups.

All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality.

His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the “quantity” group: 50 pounds of pots rated an “A”, 40 pounds a “B”, and so on.

Those being graded on “quality”, however, needed to produce only one pot — albeit a perfect one — to get an “A”.

Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity.

It seems that while the “quantity” group was busily churning out piles of work—and learning from their mistakes — the “quality” group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.

TakeAways for Goal Setting

What can we learn as a writer from the Quantity Leads to Quality Principle?
For me, a writer does not get perfect in his or her craft by writing only one book. Perfection entails writing many and different books.
I’ll let these writers tell you themselves:
Austin Kleon:The frequency of my work  showing up at regular intervals, without worrying about results — has actually lead to better results.”
Herbert Lui: “Don’t get stuck trying to get it right the first time. Instead, start making one or two things everyday. If you’re writing, write 2 crappy pages per day or structure out 1-2 pitches for articles per day. You’ll eventually figure out how to get feedback and improve.”
Matt Cheuvront: “Quantity helps us to discover what we’re best at, and maybe more importantly, what’s better left to someone else. Quality matters. But so does quantity. If you close the door to opportunities simply because it doesn’t meet your standard of quality, you may be missing out on an amazing opportunity. An opportunity to learn. An opportunity to grow. An opportunity to try new things. Because more CAN be better.”
And finally, from the Stephen King himself: “No one in his or her right mind would argue that quantity guarantees quality, but to suggest that quantity never produces quality strikes me as snobbish, inane and demonstrably untrue.”


Want to read the series of my posts on GOAL SETTING? Find them here:

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