Why We Create


How might we resolve the chef’s dilemma, the asymmetry between the effort it takes to make something and the effort it takes to consume it?

Here are three common strategies:

  1. Make it faster: If we reduce the time, care, or attention we spend on our work, then we approach a balance in the amount of time they’ll take to enjoy it. We can make things faster by refining our technique and producing our work more efficiently. Beware, however, that we usually end up hating processes that we try to make more efficient.
  2. Make a million: For some, a million people enjoying their work for a few minutes will be more satisfying than a thousand people enjoying their work for years. To appeal to the largest possible crowd, we may need to make a few compromises, but the reward and the renown are certainly unparalleled.
  3. Make them wait: Here’s a secret – for an artist, a delay is a way of getting even. A chef whose restaurant has a three month waitlist feels no shame. The line around the block, the album delay, each fan’s frustration is a small measure of justice. Once they’re inside, we create ways to slow their experience. We keep them at the table for four hours through fourteen courses. Small spoons. Tiny bites.

A little less care, or a little more. A little less time, or a little more. Chef’s choice.