*This post was originally published on July 18 2018 and updated on Dec 25, 2019.*
It is really challenging to not compare oneself to others. In so many ways our culture feeds from it. Are we pretty enough, wealthy enough, skinny enough or talented enough?
I enjoyed hearing and reading what Ira Glass, the executive producer of the popular National Public Radio show This American Life, said about his long struggle to create something noteworthy. I thought it was true for anyone of us who chooses to take the risk and put something of ourselves out there for others to judge. But as Ira shares, it is our own “good taste” that causes us to judge ourselves. We need to just keep producing!
“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, and I really wish somebody had told this to me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But it’s like there is this gap. For the first couple years that you’re making stuff, what you’re making isn’t so good. It’s not that great. It’s trying to be good, it has ambition to be good, but it’s not that good.
But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, 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. A lot of people never get past that phase. They quit.
Everybody I know who does interesting, creative work they went through years where they had really good taste and they could tell that what they were making wasn’t as good as they wanted it to be. They knew it fell short. Everybody goes through that.
And if you are just starting out or if you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important 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. It is only by going through a volume of work that you’re going to catch up and close that gap. And the work you’re making will be as good as your ambitions.
I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It takes awhile. It’s gonna take you a while. It’s normal to take a while. You just have to fight your way through that.
Thank you Ira! Thank you everyone for listening to or reading this.
Be gentle on yourselves. It takes time to become really good at whatever creative endeavor your journey is taking you.
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