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How to use the One Scrap Method to Create Better Work

Did you know that, way back in the early 1900s, New York City was covered in banana peels?

Back then, New York was just blanketed in trash, and because bananas were the hot new item of the day, their peels made up a huge amount of this hot garbage.

Bananas being imported into New York City
Bananas being imported into New York City

Can you just *imagine* if New York City were covered in trash today? Why… it’s unthinkable!

There were even articles from that era of people getting severely injured or even killed by slipping on those yellow fruit wrappers.

All of us know that making a bunch of garbage and littering it around all over the place is a pretty bad thing — whether you live in New York or anywhere else.

But when it comes to our work, making tons trash can actually be a good thing. Focusing (at least in the short and medium-term) on quantity instead of quality is crucial to getting good at our craft.

So here’s what we’re going to cover today:

Part 1: Why Quantity is Important Part 2: The “One Scrap” Method Part 3: How to get passed the Garbage Paradox

We’ve all likely heard of the ceramics class Where a class of students were divided into two groups. One group focused on churning out countless pots — entirely focused on quantity, while the second group focused on creating only one perfect pot for the entire semester.

Even though the quality group spent tons of time thinking and theorizing about the perfect pot, it was the quantity group that ended up creating better pots in the end. As artists, we get paralyzed by the “fact” that we have to choose between a good product, or one made quickly.

But quantity does not always sacrifice quality Instead, when we’re focusing on just getting stuff out the door, we feel much freer to experiment. Through all of those experiments, we’re able to bring new discoveries into our work.

What differentiates us from anyone else is the experiments we run — regardless of whether not they’re successful.

We’ll learn unique techniques that we can use forevermore. If we don’t experiment, we don’t figure anything out, and then we sound, work, and think just like everyone else. Still, we can’t just work completely mindlessly and hope that things will take care of themselves.

To prevent this, we can use the One Scrap Method Even when we realize that just churning stuff out is important, we can’t just make total thoughtless nonsense and hope that things will get better over time.

That’s where this method comes in.

Instead of creating something that’s total trash We can mix working with stuff we know how to do with a little bit of what we don’t. We can just add one scrap of trash to our otherwise normal output.

For example, if you mainly create orchestral music, and have little to no idea how to work with synths, then you can add just one or two synth tracks to blend with the rest of your next orchestral piece.

Or if you’re a sound designer, maybe you can force yourself to use a plugin you’re uncomfortable with on a layer or two of your next sound.

Just sprinkle a little bit of garbage on there. Just one lil scrap o’ trash is all you need to get tons of great experimentation out of your next batch of work.

Still, these small experiments may make us feel like our work is being dragged down. Why bother adding intentional imperfection into what we do?

And therein comes the Garbage Paradox™™™™ Where we can’t get better without creating trash, but when we even add one scrap of trash to our current work, it can make our stuff sound/feel/look terrible.

However, we don’t need to share these experiments. These tests, experiments, explorations, etc. can just live on our hard drives in perpetuity. Some this stuff will (and should) be so bad that its embarrassing. That’s fine. That means you’re on the right track.

“But Akash, you scrumptious bowl of Count Chocula” I can hear you say “don’t professionals only make great work?” Professionals create more good work than terrible, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t secret piles of trash in every corner of a pro’s workspace. To get to the good stuff, they have to make a ton of garbage that we’ll never see or hear.

Yes, a lot of people will give off the vibe and impression that they get everything right on the first try. Some will even say that you must be bad at what you do if you’re not making everything perfectly on the first try. We call those people “liars.”

Now, we don’t need to share our One Scrap experiments But it’s wise to at least share our process. Sharing our discoveries on what our various tools, experiments, and tests have shown us will help everyone, and, if you’re using social media to boost your business, will also help you create tons of content.

So no, the finished work doesn’t need to be shared, but the process sure can be.

Let’s recap what we covered:

  1. Quantity paves the way to quality

  2. We can and should be experimenting all the time

  3. But, our experiments don’t need to be nonsensical

  4. We can use the One Scrap Method to experiment without creating complete nonsense

  5. We don’t need to share everything we create, but we can certainly share the process

  6. New York City used to be dirty. Now it’s completely and perfectly clean all the time forever

While we’re (hopefully) not in the business of randomly throwing banana peels all over the place We can create trash of a different sort: Small experiments that will force us to grow. We can then use those new techniques we discover in our work forevermore.

So, next time you’re creating something Try a small new experiment on top of it. Add a nice sprinkling of trash. Do this over and over and over, and you’ll find that your skills will grow super fast, as will your repertoire of tools and techniques.

Even with new tools and techniques, creating in a void can be lonely Especially when we’re not sure what next steps we should take to making our careers stronger. That’s why I created two free courses to help anyone interested in freelancing in games find projects, network, and get paid for their work without any of the stress and anxiety.


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