getting good takes time…lots of time and LOTS of work…

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24/08/2011 by Sarah Ritchie

Are you feeling like you are not as creatively good as you should be…or as you could be? I know I am. I tend to wallow in this type of self-pity after almost every painting that I create. There have been so many times (like right now) when I have wanted to lay down my brushes and stop painting out of sheer disappointment and frustration.

The following (abridged) transcript was taken from a video entitled “Ira Glass on Storytelling (Part 3)” by Ira Glass. The unabridged video can be seen below. If you need an injection of encouragement to simply keep going and to push through your self-doubts and stallings, then this should be a good booster shot!

Nobody tells people who are beginners and I really really wish somebody had told this to me. All of us who do creative work, like, y’know, we get into it and we get into it because we have good taste. But it’s like there’s a gap. That for the first couple of years that you’re making stuff, what you’re making isn’t so good, OK? It’s 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, y’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 that I would just like to 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 when 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.

The thing what to do is everybody goes through that. And for you to go through it, going through it right now, if you’re just getting out of that phase, you’ve got to 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.

In my case, like I took longer to figure out how to do this than anybody I’ve ever met. It takes a while. It’s going to take you a while. It’s normal to take a while and you and you just have to fight your way through that.

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In response to Ira Glass’ video transcript after it appeared on Idealog, Dominique Fourie posted the following comment (17 August 2011):

I’m a senior copywriter at GrabOne and this quote is up on our wall. It’s cold, hard truth. There’s no way around it – to be a good writer you have to write, a lot, and don’t stop even when you think you’re rubbish. This goes for anyone creative. Because the truth is, you probably are a bit rubbish at first, but you’re not going to get better if you give up. Practice, practice, practice, it’s our motto here. It’s the only way, and only those of us who persevere will succeed.

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Sarah Ritchie
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