On the first day of class Florida photography professor Jerry Uelsmann separates his students into two groups.
One group of students are graded on the number of pictures they take. The more pictures they submit, the better the grade. The quality of the photos doesn’t effect their marks.
The other group of students are graded on the quality of their photos. If they choose, they can spend the entire semester composing one perfect photo to submit for a grade.
Which group do you think produced the best quality photo?
At the end of the semester the best photos came from the group graded on the quantity of photos they took.¹
Why is this?
While the members of the “quality group” sat around thinking about how to produce the perfect photo, the “quantity group” were out experimenting, learning from mistakes, and mastering their craft.
This experiment is a punch in the gut to the dawdling perfectionists out there.
It disproves the notion that you can think your way to a “great idea”. And suggests that “great ideas” are often built on the breadcrumbs of the hundreds of good, bad, and ugly ones that come before them.
Author and Entrepreneur James Altucher echoes these sentiments in his article “The Ultimate Guide For Becoming An Idea Machine”
Altucher deems perfectionism “the enemy of your idea muscle”. And suggest aspiring creatives come up with 10 ideas a day. If you can’t produce 10, he says to come up with 20.
The number isn’t important. What is, is that you take the time and put in your reps.
You can do this by setting deadlines for yourself.
Asking a trusted friend to keep you accountable.
Doesn’t matter. In the creative arena: quantity beats quality. Give the finger to your perfectionist and get to work.
- Clear, James. “Why Aiming for Perfection Won’t Help You Achieve Your Goals.” James Clear, 4 Feb. 2020, jamesclear.com/repetitions.