Be Prolific

Note to future self…

I have to admit something. I think that one of the most wonderful compliments that you can give another human is that they’re prolific (if you truly believe that they are). I think that’s kinda silly because in reality being prolific just means that you produce a great number or amount of something. Here’s the literal definition according to the Cambridge Dictionary:

Prolific: producing a great number or amount of something.

I think it’s funny that being prolific is associated with excellence and even genius because it just doesn’t mean that in the literal sense. However, I love the fact that it is associated with these qualities because it recognizes that true genius lies in the relentless pursuit of excellence where a large volume of “something” is simply the cost and the byproduct of getting to that one thing that’s truly special.

A class I took in college titled “Music Humanities” really influenced my thoughts on this. One day my professor draw a chart outlining the number of pieces written by some of the top composers that we were studying that week (Beethoven, Mozart and Bach). I was astounded when I saw that they wrote thousands of compositions each (most of which were tweaks of a specific piece or motif). My professor proceeded to explain that although it’s obviously not a perfect correlation the volume of work produced by these composers does tend to correlate with how they’re perceived today. These composers were truly prolific.

It’s important to note that being prolific is not at odds with this aphorism of quantity over quality. Producing a large volume of work or trying a bunch of different things is part of the process of creating high quality work. Pursuing quantity for the sake of quantity is what screws things up. Intent, in this case, makes all the difference.

On a related note, today I came across this thought, which motivated me to write this post:

Whatever you decide to do, be prolific. Not “enjoy yourself” or “do what you love” or “do great work” – all of those things are moving targets. Your definition of great work is shitty. Self-conscious enjoyment is shitty. Just be prolific, and you’ll do great fun work you love”

That’s my aim – to be prolific.

Now back to work…