Quantity vs Quality

A counter-intuitive approach to creative output.

I’m a growing fan of the idea that quantity is more important than quality.

It’s an idea that I’ve come across before, but I was reminded of it while watching this interview with Gary Vaynerchuk, about how Netflix are releasing a new movie every week this year:

I think that in Hollywood, and in general in creative land, we demonise quantity. We’re like: what about quality? Well, quality is subjective. You either like it or you don’t. But quantity is not subjective. So while Netflix puts out all these movies and their competitors put out far less, it gives Netflix many more bats to hit the home run that let’s say The Queen’s Gambit was.

I’ve seen evidence for this subjectivity while tweeting. I try to tweet a joke every weekday — both to get better at joke writing, but also to remind people that I exist. (Hello! 👋🏾)

There are some jokes that I’m really proud of, which get barely any response:

While there are some jokes that sit in my notes for weeks, because I don’t think they’re good enough, which end up doing way better than I expected:

(Plus: looking up those examples has made me realise that there’s such a small difference between tweets I perceive as “doing well” and tweets I perceive as “doing badly” — just 13 likes at the time of writing — that I now feel silly for caring about how well they go down at all.)

There are other advantages to focusing on quantity too:

  • It reduces the pressure on each individual thing to be good.
  • It creates the space for experimentation, and for weirder, more original ideas.
  • It’s a natural path to quality anyway, because you get to practice more.

But while it’s easy to have this attitude for tweets and blog posts, I’ve found it harder to internalise it for larger projects like short films and sitcom pilots. Not only do they take way more effort, but I have ridiculously higher expectations for them — each one has to be the project that finally gets me noticed and helps me break through, in order to push up my graph of success.

But really, they’re no different to tweets: the outcome is out of my hands.

So this year, I’m going to try focusing on quantity only, and write three new pilots by the end of December. They might all be terrible — but at least I know that’s not my call to make.

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