Ira Glass on Developing Your Creative Skill: Go for Quantity, Not Quality

The below 2 minute video of Ira Glass explaining how the secret to artistic quality is to do a lot of art is well worth your time.

Bayles and Orland make the same point in their terrific book Art & Fear. They tell a (true, I believe) story of two pottery classes:

  • One class was told to create one fabulous pot by the end of the semester.
  • The other was told to create as many pots as possible.

In the end, it was the students who created many pots who also tended to create the best ones. This is for at least three reasons:

  • As Glass notes, it takes a lot of time and practice to develop a skill.
  • The “quantity” students were being nonperfectionist – i.e., focusing on process, not product. (It is likely that some of the “quality” ones didn’t finish even a single pot.)
  • Quality is not something you can force, and when you try to force it you sabotage the creative process, which demands freedom and flexibility. Rather, quality is something you work towards and hope for. As Flaubert said, “Success must be a consequence and never a goal.” (Catullus says the same thing.)

Ira Glass on Storytelling from David Shiyang Liu on Vimeo.

ht Brainpickings

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