Remember This is a periodic blog series of thoughts, quotes and inspiration that I want to remember—and you might, too. Things I’ve learned about life so far, and don’t want to forget (like my human brain has a tendency to do). You can view the all the posts in the series here.
I’m sharing this quote on the blog today not only because it’s inspired me time and again, but also because I’ve shared it with so many of my clients who are working to create something new in their life—a business, a craft, even the perfect living room. It helps me to articulate something that I’ve found to be true about starting any creative endeavor. I’m not going to give it all away, because Ira says it much better, but please remember this quote the next time you’re tempted to give up on an idea because your results aren’t matching the vision in your mind.
“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know it’s normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”
Note to those who don’t know him, Ira Glass is the creator of This American Life, a fantastic podcast that I love so much and highly recommend.
This idea is closely related to the idea that it takes 10,000 hours of working at a particular skill before achieving mastery (which I first heard about from Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers). Whenever that thought depresses me or I think I have too far to go, I like to listen to this song by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.
I’d love to hear what inspires you when it feels like your creative journey is taking too long! Leave a note in the comments or email me.