What are we talking about today?

Some days have themes. I don't necessarily post something in each of these topic areas every week.

Sunday: Church-related or spiritual things.
Monday: Running.
Tuesday: Books.
Wednesday: Transportation.
Friday: Green living.

13 March 2017

Quantitative Methods

Monday is usually the day I blog about running. Here's how my running is going:

With that out of the way, let's talk writing instead. Well, creating. I default to writing because that's kind of my thing, but I'm pretty sure this applies to other types of creative processes.

Are people still debating over quantity vs quality? I kinda checked out of that one sometime in the 80s (yes, I got an early start on this) after a series of teachers telling us to focus more on the quality of our schoolwork were matched with another series telling us that we'd get the quality only if we upped our quantity, i.e., with more practice. Yes, these were the kinds of lectures that went down at Weston Elementary School.

Anyway. I don't know if that debate is still raging, or if it's settled now, but my experience has been that the second group of teachers were correct, and quantity of creative output will result in an increase in quality over time. There are almost certainly exceptions to this, but practice really does, more or less, get you closer to perfect.

Kim Liao sets a goal of 100 rejections per year, because to get that many rejections means she has to do a lot of writing, and some of that writing is eventually going to find its way to the right publication. Upworthy, the website, encourages its writers to embrace failure as part of the road to going viral.

I said this to two different coworkers last week. They both
reacted the way you'd expect highly qualified and
dedicated mental health professionals to react, which is
why I gotta stop quoting The West Wing at work.
So I was already feeling well validated in my decision to blog every day, or at least as close to every day as I possibly can, even though some of these posts are bound to be duds. And then I was listening to an episode of The West Wing Weekly podcast with Aaron Sorkin as a guest. Mr Sorkin said a couple things that I find both amazing and comforting: 1) most of the time his first drafts were what they filmed (what???), and a lot of times they sucked, and he would like to have them all back again to rewrite; and 2) after finishing nearly every episode, he would realize that his well of ideas was run dry and he had used up all his words.

And this is Aaron Sorkin. The guy who has written some of my favourite lines of all time. If an award-winning writer can feel this way... well, I choose to let it give me hope instead of despair. And given how prolific he is, he ought to know something about the byproducts of quantity, and about the words turning up when they're needed most.

What are you practicing today?


Kar said...

Writing is usually my preferred type of creativity. I seem to be "dried up" at the moment, though. Hopefully I'll be able to break out of it soon. I should probably try the quantity in pursuit of quality thing. The inner critic can shut down a lot of things before I've really given them a chance. :/

Su Wilcox said...

Yep. Give the inner critic a cookie to keep her quiet and just start writing.