The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality. His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the “quantity” group: fifty pounds of pots rated an A, forty pounds a B, and so on. Those being graded on “quality,” however, needed to produce only one pot—albeit a perfect one—to get an A. Well, come grading time a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the “quantity” group was busily churning out piles of work and learning from their mistakes, the “quality” group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.
Skill is the result of deliberate, consistent practice, and in early-stage practice, quantity and speed trump absolute quality. The faster and more often you practice, the more rapidly you’ll acquire the skill.
Contrary to popular usage, “steep learning curves” are good, not bad. The graph makes it clear why: Steep learning curves indicate a very fast rate of skill acquisition. The steeper the curve, the better you get per unit of time.
The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything . . . Fast! by Josh Kaufman