When it comes to producing anything at all, the argument has always existed about quality and quantity. Normally these are placed in opposition to one another.
But does this need to be the way it is? I say no, it doesn’t. You can have quality and quantity together.
No matter what you are producing — art or otherwise — it’s possible to work on both quality and quantity. I believe that this is wholly a matter of mindset.
Mass marketing over the years has produced virtually obscene quantities of any number of products, From tiny gadgets like thumb drives and mini-flashlights to household appliances and cars — these can be made in almost incomprehensible quantities quickly.
Many of these are quality products. Say what you will about cars — but I find certain brands tend to be high quality 9 times out of 10. Other brands, however — similarly mass-produced — are more unreliable. But this is an excellent example of quantity AND quality.
What about the arts? Can an artist like a painter produce a huge volume of product and keep the quality up? What about sculptors, woodworkers, writers, et al?
Further, while quantity is readily defined, how do you define quality?
For the most part, this is utterly subjective. Where some people see quality, other people see garbage. Like the overall subjectivity of painting — what you might think is amazing I might think is boring and uninteresting. To each their own.
My definition of quality is relatively simple:
· Was care put in the work?
· Did the artist produce something thoughtful?
· Is it obvious that effort went into this production?
· Does this work satisfy me and/or make me feel good?
· Is it worth what I am paying for it?
If the answer is yes to all of these, it doesn’t matter to me if it was produced in minutes, hours, days, or what-have-you. If I put value on it then it is quality.
This is something I have always accounted for with my writing. The time and effort that goes into my work — be it fiction or nonfiction — is a matter of quality.
I desire to tell a memorable story, inspire, share an idea, and interest my readers. That’s why at the very least all these blog posts get a read-through edit and a pass with the Grammarly app.
Yet, there is a vast quantity of work that I am putting out.
I write an article to post to my blogs five or six days a week. These articles tend to focus on mindfulness, conscious reality creation, positivity, philosophy, self-help, inspiration, life lessons, etc.
There are also articles once a week on this topic — the ongoing process of producing art. Since I know I am not alone in struggles and complexities with this — I share my process.
That’s a LOT of material. Recently, I began to track my word count, both for fiction and nonfiction. For these posts, I am now producing around 10,000 words a week. That means I am writing over half a million words a year. That’s just these articles and blog posts.
Recently, I have exponentially increased my fiction writing time, as I realized I could do more. Starting with an experiment in planning (since I’ve always been a pantser as a writer), I developed and plotted out chapter-by-chapter a 4-novel sci-fi series. That took me less than two weeks.
I began to write the first book. In a month I am almost 3/4 of the way through it. At this pace, I will be capable of writing a novel in about six weeks.
This is where the question of quality versus quantity comes in. Seeker, the first novel of The Source Chronicles, took me YEARS to write. Granted, it’s probably around 160,000 words long — compared to this new sci-fi novel (titled, tentatively, Unexpected Witness) that will be more on the order of 60,000 words. But it has been a far longer process to work on Seeker and the subsequent sequels.
Does this mean Seeker is of higher quality than Unexpected Witness? I don’t believe so.
Quality AND Quantity
Seeker began as a scene in my head that I had to put to the screen/page. Then there was another, and another, and another — until I had written half a novel. I stumbled when my villain ceased to be the villain — but a conversation with an old, dear friend turned that tide and opened the way to finish it.
Even as a habitual pantser, the one novel evolved into a series. It was going to be 3 books. I finished Finder (book 2), but Harbinger (book 3) got longer and longer as I worked on it. So that I wasn’t writing a 1000-page monster — I found a mid-point and split it. Now, my series will be 4 books.
I hired my first professional editor for Seeker. She, in turn, didn’t just edit the novel — she taught ME how to take a different, more clear approach to my wring as well as how to edit. (Lone, if you happen to be reading this, THANK YOU.)
The importance of this was that I learned how to create higher quality work. This would apply to absolutely everything I write — fiction, nonfiction, and what-have-you.
I continue to study how to be a better writer and editor. My current editor has awakened me to other errors I habitually make in my work. I choose to not ignore that to improve my overall quality of work.
Even with a large increase in the quantity of writing — I am choosing to take the time and care to make sure it is also still quality. This is both about keeping the work strong for you — my reader — and showing my best care and interest as a writer.
Hence, whatever art you practice, you can have quality and quantity side-by-side. It all comes down to the choices and decisions you make consciously.
Consciousness creates reality
Artists take imaginative notions and bring them into this reality in one form or another. Spectacles of light and color, words to inspire or warn, tastes nobody has experienced before, and so forth. Whether you produce an impressive number of creations at a time — or only a few — you can choose the quality of your work.
Being mindful of what you produce is a conscious matter. You know that you’ve taken the thought and feeling, acted with intent to share it, and decide if you do so whole-heartedly or half-assedly. Your audience will know if you are just hacking it and producing schlock for a paycheck — or putting your heart into your every creation and making amazing things.
You consciously create new things to share with the world. The quality of them is as much in your control as the quantity is. Choosing to work with this, you can decide if you will share something amazing or something less-than-amazing.
I know what I desire to share with the world with my arts. What are you choosing to produce quantity and quality?
Thank you for reading. I am MJ Blehart. I write about mindfulness, conscious reality creation, positivity, my creative process, and similar life lessons.
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