A while back, I took a drawing class. Our instructor, an accomplished artist with years of experience under his belt, began our first class with a story about an experiment. Two groups of art students were given two different assignments. The first group was asked to produce as many drawings as they possibly could within a couple of weeks. The second group was tasked with producing one high quality piece within the same time frame. At the end of the two weeks, the students submitted their work for evaluation. Guess who generated better quality and more original art? If you think it was the second group, who was focusing on quality, think again. It was actually the quantity-oriented group who ended up with most original ideas and better quality art.
The simple truth of the story is not as obvious as it may seem at the first glance. How often do we hear from teachers or experts in a given field about focusing on quality, and not on quantity? Could they be wrong? I don’t mean to say that quality should not be considered at all. I am saying if you set out to create no less than a masterpiece, you will likely end up with a heartache. On the other hand, generating in great numbers material that bears no mark of intelligent thought is never a good way to channel anyone’s creativity.
My point? The dividing line between quality and quantity exists only if we believe these are two separate, unrelated concepts. In reality, however, they are inseparable. It’s like mining through tones of ore to get a few ounces of silver or gold. The bigger quantities of ore you mine, the better quality of precious metal you get. So, I tell myself: no matter how little gold shows up, keep mining, because if you don’t, you may never discover what rich deposits of precious creativity you’ve been sitting on all your life.