Quality in creativity

In the book Zen and the Art of Motorcyle Maintenance Robert Pirsig questions the term “Quality.”

What is Quality? Does Quality even exist? How can you define Quality?

Quality is something we all know of, we know it exists and we know it when we see it, but it’s hard to define. You can tell the difference between a creative idea with high quality and one without. But how can you tell the difference between an idea that is worthy of shouting “Aha! Yes!” and an idea that isn’t worth much of anything? More importantly: how can you build the quality of your creativity?

In the book, Robert goes on to describe several aspects of Quality work: unity, vividness, authority, economy, sensitivity, clarity, emphasis, flow, suspense, brilliance, precision, proportion, depth, etc.

While these are all aspects that can define the quality of work ‒ specifically writing ‒ they can also be used to define the quality of a creative idea or project.

Let’s look at an example of what I’m talking about.

To build the quality of a creative idea, the idea should appear complete. This is done through unity, which can be built with a simple outline. How often do you outline your ideas? Quality creative ideas can be created by outlining your problem or project.

Another example of building quality from an idea is in its authority. You can tell a creative idea is a quality one if it references ideas or insights from authoritative figures. By referencing the well‒known author Robert Pirsig at the beginning of this article, I gave it a sense of authority, improving it’s quality.

Look at the aspects of Quality work and try to relate them to your ideas. How can you build the unity of an idea? What makes an idea authoritative? Is the idea clear and does it flow? Is it brilliant or maybe it is a deep idea. These are all aspects of quality in creativity.

How much quality have you been putting into your creativity lately? How could you improve?