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Creativity & Work According to Ira Glass

Most people have probably seen the series on storytelling by Ira Glass, but I just came across this section again, and it jumped out at me like it hasn’t before.

I’ve been a This American Life fan for years—Ira Glass is probably the best storyteller I’ve ever heard, and so it’s great to hear this sort of thing from him. The video is especially great since it’s a little more raw than this transcription and the example of his work before he figured it all out it honest and awesome. It’s well worth the few minutes to watch, and I’ll be referring back to this quote on a regular basis.

“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 its 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.”

― Ira Glass