There is a famous story taken from the book Art & Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland about a ceramics teacher who divides her class into two groups: the quantity group and the quality group.
The teacher tells the quantity group that their work will be graded for the amount of pots they produce between the first and last day of the semester; the more pots a student will make, the higher grade they will get. The quality group is given an assignment to produce just a single pot for grading. But in order for the quality group student to get the highest grade, the pot should be near perfect.
The quantity group starts working with clay from day one and continues to do so until the very last day of class. The quality group on the other hand starts with research and figuring out the characteristics and methods of producing the perfect pot.
When the day to grade the students' work finally arrives, the ceramics teacher is surprised: not only did the quantity group produce the most pots, but they also produced the highest quality pots. The idea of perfection paralyzed the quality group. Instead of working with clay, the group wasted their time on research and theorizing. Meanwhile, the quantity group kept learning from their mistakes as more and more pots came out from their kilns.
The lesson of the story is simple: producing more work leads to greater work. If you want to make the perfect pot, make hundred pots, not one.
The origins of the story is based on photographer Jerry Uelsmann's university class where he conducted a similar experiment with his students (author James Clear retells the story in its original form in his book Atomic Habits). Like pots, photos can be easily produced in hundreds or thousands during a person's lifetime. However, some art projects are fundamentally lot more laborious than pottery or photography projects.
For example, author Hank Green has noted that writing ninety-nine books before publishing your hundredth, first great book is not feasible for authors. This means that if your dream is to produce a big, labour-intensive project, you need to get creative about figuring out what are the hundred pots you need to produce before taking on a more gargantuan task. What helped Hank Green to write his first novel was to write scripts for hundreds of his online videos at Vlogbrothers.
This post marks Flashover's hundredth post. Since the blog's inception, there's been a new post here every week.
While it has been highly rewarding to hit publish every week, and while publishing my writing every week has been a great contract I have signed with myself to force me to develop a weekly writing habit over the last two years, there have been moments where I have wished I could have had more time to work on an individual post or produce posts that discuss given topics in more depth. Because of this, this post will be my last weekly post.
Instead of weekly posts, my plan is to use Flashover to publish more long-form content and possibly write stuff on other platforms as well (I have no intentions to reduce the amount of writing I do on a weekly basis). If you have enjoyed my weekly posts, I want to thank you for being a reader. Since I won't be publishing as regularly as before, I suggest you subscribe to my RSS feed or newsletter to get notified when the next post is out.
Take care and stay safe!