Quantity over Quality

10 Nov

Who doesn’t like NaNoWriMo?

Well, to be honest…. a lot of people.  It attracts many criticisms, but one of the loudest (apart from “Please don’t make me read what you wrote!!!!”) is that we always push for “quantity over quality.”

Which is a fair observation.  Many people, including me, find it easier to write now and edit later.  However many people also struggle to leave something less than perfect, and prefer to take their time trying to craft it before moving on to the next page.  There seems to be a general feeling that quantity is the enemy of quality.

Which brings me to an interesting story from Art & Fear : Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking.

41o9FWML8RL._SX320_BO1,204,203,200_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, come 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.

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Posted by on November 10, 2015 in NaNoWriMo, Writing



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