“We don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.”
Archilochus, 650 BCE
Have you ever tried to create something that was perfect? Have you ever tried something new, and expected to be amazing right away?
Probably, what you made on your first attempt wasn’t perfect. And the new thing you tried turned out to be a flop.
I’m about to say something controversial. In the learning process, spending time to make a large amount of mediocre work is more effective than spending that time to make a single, perfect piece of art. Grinding is better than finessing if you want to improve.
You Can’t Perfect What You Don’t Know
You can’t perfect what you don’t know. This is the main pitfall that perfection-oriented learners find themselves in. They believe that with enough time spent on a single project, they can turn out beautiful work. What they don’t realize is that they don’t know how to make beautiful work. Because of that, it doesn’t matter how much time they spend on a single project–it will still come out as just okay. Here’s a basic formula for making something amazing.
Amazing work = time x skill + luck
As we can see in the formula, the multiplier for time is skill. The more skilled you are, the more your time can affect the outcome of your work. Skill can be gained with time, however it’s important to make a distinction between working on your craft and working in your craft. Learning by creating and learning to create are separate tasks.
This is why someone with okay skills can spend enormous amounts of time on projects and turn out mediocre results. The mediocre creator can only create at the level of his skill set. In order to improve the toolbox, he needs to learn what he doesn’t know.
Rapid Learning via Rapid Feedback
When we create something that is new to us, our perception of it is skewed. We might think it is better or worse than it actually is. We don’t actually have a grasp on if it’s good or bad because we don’t have a reference point that we fully understand. Until we bring in a third party, we can’t understand the true value of our work.
When learning a new skill, creating as much work as possible, then submitting that work for private feedback, is an invaluable tactic.
If you’re learning to produce music, make a track a day. Send it to a producer friend who is more advanced than you. Every day, ask for feedback on the track you completed. Then implement that feedback the next day, on the next track. Over time, you will rapidly develop your skill se- through a barrage of tiny changes. Here’s an example of what daily feedback and implementation looks like.
Day 1 Feedback: Drum levels are too loud. Reduce snare volume.
Day 2 Feedback: Drum levels are fine. Work on your arrangement.
Day 3 Feedback: Arrangement is good. Get tighter EQ on your bass.
Day 4 Feedback: EQing is ok. Build bigger energy in the track.
As the days progress, the advice and feedback will become more abstract and esoteric. Instead of focusing on compression and mixing, you can focus on feel and emotion. Your areas of improvement will be less of the nuts and bolts and more heady concepts. You will improve at the rate that you produce work. If you want to grow daily, then make something daily. If you want to grow monthly, then make something monthly. After rapidly creating these projects and receiving feedback, you will start to be ready to release them to the world.
This concept applies to all skills, not simply music. If you are a designer, make a logo or shirt a day. If you are an engineer, build something a day. If you are a writer, blog something every day (wink, wink). Y
Get out there and do work, repeatedly.
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The post Repetition Over Perfection: Stop Finessing and Start Finishing appeared first on Pariah Reign.