Quality is an excuse

Quality is an excuse

Theory: quality will become an excuse to avoid publishing if you let it.

It all began with a domain I’d purchased but never found a use for.


I was working my first full time designer job and loving every second of it.

But I knew I could be better at my job and I wanted to be better at my job. I just didn’t really know how.

Even though I was working 5 days a week 9-5 I wanted to get better quicker. I’ve always had a frustration with the slowness of life.

How could I get better...but quicker?

Well: there was something a lot of designers were doing around that time that I never saw any of them finish.

365 day challenges. A logo a day. A design a day. A piece of writing a day.

I suspect it may have started with Michael Beirut, as most things do. He gave his students an assignment to make something every day for 100 days.

At this time I was 18 and lacking discipline. I was a hard-worker but didn't do much in my spare time other than play video games and hang out with my girlfriend. My girlfriend was now at uni so I had some spare time.

This idea kept swirling around my head.

A thing a day for 365 days.

It was a big commitment.

But I had nothing else to do.

But it would be difficult.

But I wouldn't make it to the end.

But I could tell everyone on Twitter that I was doing it and then I couldn't fail.

But then I'd look even more silly when I did fail.

Like a teenager's Instagram feed, the buts were varied and plentiful.


I couldn't shake the idea.

A few months went by and I continued to crack on at work. By this point I'd seen lots of people start these 365 day projects and I wanted my piece.

I was sat at work one day and decided to ask my boss.

"Dave: do you fancy making an A4 poster every day for 365 days?"

"Ooo. Go on then."

I browsed those domains I'd never used again.

One stuck out at me with its randomness.

Novl Cuisine was born.

Publishing bad work

I spent the next 365 days publishing bad work.

One of the many bad posters I made during Novl Cuisine.
One of the many bad posters I made during Novl Cuisine.

Sure, there was occasional flashes of brilliance and some of my ideas still stand up now some 12 years later. But the vast majority of the work was bad.

Some of my less-bad work from Novl Cuisine.
Some of my less-bad work from Novl Cuisine.

You certainly wouldn't call it quality no matter how you define the word.

Most days I spent 1 hour to produce a bad poster.

But you know what happened?

365 bad reps lead to me discovering what "quality" meant.

I still remember reflecting on the challenge after 365 days and realising how much better I'd become.

As a designer. As a thinker. As an idea-generating machine.

I was quicker, better and more-rounded as a designer on every level of my being.

I felt like that scene in the first Matrix where Neo gets kung fu downloaded to his brain in a couple of seconds.


Quantity leads to quality. And you don't get quality without quantity.

It lead me to realise that quantity vs quality isn't even a discussion. It's the entirely wrong argument to have.

It isn't quality vs quantity.

You don't get to choose one. Quantity leads to quality. If you want to produce anything of quality you'll need to up the reps.

This is a conversation I've been having now for over a decade. The latest incarnation of it was with Charles on my podcast.

This doesn't just apply to publishing daily. This applies to everything.

Athletes. Actors. People with a craft.

They're all practicing daily. They might not be publishing daily but you can bet they're practicing.

An olympic athlete spends more time practicing than he does publishing—participating in the Olympic games. But he's practicing alright. He's preparing and improving his skills.

Quality is ego.

This idea of "quality" is just your ego talking. It's your ego saying "don't make a fool of yourself". It's your ego saying "the first thing you put out in public must be amazing".

Don't listen.

Your obsession with quality will lead you to never publish anything.

An obsession with quantity will lead to quality.

An obsession with quality will lead to nothing.

Don't let quality become an excuse.