• Piyumi Kapugeekiyana

Moar, moar, moar!

We've all heard of quality over quantity. But when it comes to creativity and ideation, it's more important to generate a high volume of output than to focus on painstakingly polishing one treasured gem.

I've heard this advice from several sources lately. One example is this fantastic podcast featuring life and business coach Marie Forleo and photographer Chase Jarvis, both personal favorites on living the creative life. If you're in a punishing mood, you can also read a journal article about the 'Equal Odds Rule' posited by Dean Simonton.

Simonton's research suggests that 'the relationship between the number of hits (i.e., creative successes) and the total number of works produced in a given time period is positive, linear, stochastic, and stable.'

In other words, it's a numbers game. The more you create, the more likely it is you'll create something worthwhile.

They say Picasso produced a whopping 13,500 paintings and designs, 100,000 prints and engravings, 34,000 book illustrations and 300 sculptures and ceramics. Da Vinci, that rare polymath, is estimated to have produced between 20,000–28,000 pages of notes and sketches across ~50 notebooks, contemplating everything that captured his fancy. Mozart lived to be 35 years old and reportedly wrote over 600 musical compositions. Of course, we've all heard that refrain about Edison making 1,000 attempts at the light bulb.

Now, you may be tempted to think that this is only true of geniuses.

Intriguingly, Simonton's work suggests otherwise. It's not that highly acclaimed individuals receive recognition for every work that they produce. Rather, the probability of producing a well-recognized work product is roughly the same for all contributors, whether eminent or not. As Michael Martinez put it in his 2010 book Learning and Cognition: The Design of the Mind (p.224):

What distinguishes highly eminent scholars is the overall volume of works they produce. By sheer dint of productivity, those who reach professional eminence stack the odds in their favor of producing another masterpiece.

In short, quantity yields quality when it comes to creativity. Hopefully, this is all the push someone needs to go out and produce more!