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Quantity as a way to achieve Quality?

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A book I have read recently, "Fail Fast and Fail Often," described an interesting experiment in an art class. The teacher divided the class into two groups. One group of students were tasked with creating a clay masterpiece by the end of semester and they would be evaluated based on the quality of their work. The other group was instructed to use as much clay as possible and they would be evaluated based on the amount of clay that they consumed. In the end, the clay pieces from the "quantity-tasked" group far exceeded the ones from the "quality-tasked" group. So it can be said that quantity is a way to achieve quality.

From January 2004, I started writing an essay almost every workday. Back then, I used to dislike writing, but I felt it necessary to disclose my thoughts to the staff members, so I continued to write. Since then, over twelve years have passed, and although I still make a lot of mistakes, I only need a few minutes to decide what to write about, and I can write up an essay within 10 to 15 minutes. This is the fruit of a "quantity-mindset" writing.

Last Sunday, I went to my Jr High-School reunion. I attended Japanese School in London for 18 months. I talked with one of my teachers, for the first time in 38 years. Since he had been living in Shikoku after he came back from London, I lost contact with him. He said, "When I asked you to write an essay for the graduation booklet, you strongly resisted. I had noticed you drew a lot in your notebooks, so I suggested to draw the front cover instead. You took my suggestion and that is how you ended up drawing the front cover." I remembered that I enjoyed drawing the front cover and I disliked writing 38 years ago, too.

文集の絵.jpg

We also talked about my teacher's habit of sketching everywhere he went. I told him that I tried sketching about a year ago when I went to the USA for a trip, too. I only sketched a little, but with quite a bit of precision. However, I have not drawn since then so I failed to make sketching a habit. My teacher replied, "You trying to be very precise might have been the problem."

It was a moment of "Ah ha!"

Yes, I put too much effort into making my drawing perfect, haunted by the idea of quality, so to say a "quality-mindset." That made me hesitate to sketch routinely and repeatedly and made me think drawing required too much effort, and losing its appeal. I can see that drawing nowadays is not as enjoyable as it was when I drew the cover page in Jr High.

a pine cone.jpg

shenando tree.jpg

Any dumb essay and any dumb drawing is fine. The accumulation of writing and drawing would improve the outcome as we continue to do it. Yes, I have experienced the mindsets in experiment mentioned in the beginning of this essay; both from a "quality-mindset" and a "quantity-mindset."

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