The Parable of the Pottery Class

The Parable of the Pottery Class


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There was once a pottery teacher called Brian. One month, he decided to split his class into two groups. Group A had to make a pot every day for 30 days (so 30 pots in total). Group B had to work on a single pot for the whole 30 days.

At the end of the month, Brian judged the quality of the pots. Without exception, every one of the top 10 pots came from Group A, the guys that made one pot per day. None came from the group that focused on perfecting their single pot.

I’ve had messages from students interested in starting various things - YouTube channels, blogs, photography, video editing, all sorts. They’ve been asking for advice on how to get started, or how to improve.

My advice is to always focus on quantity over quality, at least for the first few years.

Want to get better at photography? Take 10,000 photos. Learning how to cook? Try 100 recipes. Video editing? Make 100 videos. At the end of that (and with a few YouTube tutorials sprinkled in for good measure), it’s hard to not be significantly better.

Aiming for quantity has another benefit - it stops the fear of “what if this isn’t good enough?” from paralysing us. We accept that as beginners, we’re going to suck and that’s okay. In my very first vlog, I said ‘I know my first 50 videos are going to be terrible’. For those 50 videos, that mantra was in the back of my mind. I tried my best to improve my video-making skills, but I never let the pressure of “this has to be good” get in the way of churning out content. And I’m so so glad that I heard this advice before I got started with YouTube, because without it, I’d still be obsessing over trying to make my first video ‘perfect’ before putting it online.

So if you’re starting a new hobby over summer, or trying to improve your skills at pretty much anything, this is something I hope you’ll find useful. I certainly have :)

PS: I think the original source of the pottery story is the book Art & Fear. Never read it but I've heard good things.

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