Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach

Quantity Leads To Quality

In the spring of 1990, the Fox Network aired the first episode of a dark, satirical and hilarious cartoon. The show was received so well that Fox continued to broadcast it for the next 30 years, making it the longest-running American sitcom ever.

I’m of course talking about the cult classic, The Simpsons.

Although the quality of the show has dropped over the years, writing a 20-minute episode is no easy feat.

What came to us as knee-slapping brilliance through our television set was the result of hours of toil and sweat.

When the show was at its best, a team of roughly twelve writers would work long eleven-hour days on a single episode.

And they wouldn’t write it in one go, an episode and its jokes would sometimes go through as many as 30 to 40 rewrites.

The great Simpsons writer Dana Gould said, “For every episode of the Simpsons there are two episodes worth of jokes we throw away.”

Instead of striving for perfection and getting it right on the first try, the team instead opted to go for quantity.

Which makes sense.

Quality is subjective. No matter how good your first attempt, you never really know if it’s the best you can do.

But quantity is objective. Set a number and you’ll know when you reach it. And if you set the number high enough, you’ll easily find the best by contrasting it with the rest.

The most difficult thing about aiming for quantity is deciding on a quota. 

More is obviously better. Swing at a ball often enough and you’ll eventually hit it into the bleachers. Plus, the longer you practice, the better you’ll be.

The trouble with more is that it costs more time. And of that we don’t have an endless supply.

So if you’re a content creator striving for quality, you must pick a number of weekly or monthly drafts and mock-ups that you can maintain for years to come. 

Pick a number too high and you’ll eventually give up. Pick a number too low and you probably won’t learn enough to get good.

Get the number right, however, and you’ll be producing quality work.

By Jeroen Elsing
Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach