It’s been years since I first heard Ira Glass talk about creativity in his interview on the art of storytelling and for some reason it’s been on my mind lately and I wanted to share it here. Perhaps it’s also because I just finished listening to S-Town (for which Ira Glass is the Editorial Advisor so I kept hearing his name on the episode credits).
Nobody tells people who are beginners — and I really wish somebody had told this to me — is that all of us who do creative work … we get into it because we have good taste. But it’s like there’s a gap, that for the first couple years that you’re making stuff, what you’re making isn’t so good, OK? It’s not that great. It’s really not that great. It’s trying to be good, it has ambition to be good, but it’s not quite that good. But your taste — the thing that got you into the game — your taste is still killer, and your taste is good enough that you can tell that what you’re making is kind of a disappointment to you, you know what I mean?
A lot of people never get past that phase. A lot of people at that point, they quit. And the thing I would just like say to you with all my heart is that most everybody I know who does interesting creative work, they went through a phase of years where they had really good taste and they could tell what they were making wasn’t as good as they wanted it to be — they knew it fell short, it didn’t have the special thing that we wanted it to have.
And the thing I would say to you is everybody goes through that. And for you to go through it, if you’re going through it right now, if you’re just getting out of that phase — you gotta know it’s totally normal.
And the most important possible thing you can do is do a lot of work — do a huge volume of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week, or every month, you know you’re going to finish one story. Because it’s only by actually going through a volume of work that you are actually going to catch up and close that gap. And the work you’re making will be as good as your ambitions. It takes a while, it’s gonna take you a while — it’s normal to take a while. And you just have to fight your way through that, okay?
I actually think I’ve been thinking about this interview because I decided to start this website without really knowing what it was going to be all about. Now that I’m working on producing more content for this site - which I love doing, I find exactly what Ira Glass describes to be true: I think it’s trying to be good, but it disappoints me.
I know it’s easy to compare ourselves to other people and forget that they probably struggled through the same things when they were just starting. So for now, taking Ira Glass’ wisdom, I’ll just keep going and making stuff, and hopefully one day I’ll close the gap between my work and my ambitions.
For all of you out there that want to change up your mobile screens and could use some middle-of-the-month motivation, I lettered a quick message for you. Wherever you are at, keep going!
If you’ve already subscribed, hopefully you’ve already got a link to grab this from your inbox! If you haven’t already subscribed, please enter your email below for the free goods! Finally, thanks for reading - are any of you going through this phase right now too? Would love to hear your thoughts and how you're fighting through it!