The Gap

Ira Glass’s thoughts on there being a “taste gap” for creative beginners, gorgeously animated by filmmaker Daniel Sax.

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…

A lot of people never get past that phase. A lot of people at that point, they quit.

…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?

Okay, Ira Glass, I’m listening. Do you guys –any of you who do creative work– necessarily agree with this sentiment? It’s comforting (though obvious) to hear that you shouldn’t expect to be good right off the bat. That like anything else, it takes practice. Glass’s words are simple (and old; this interview is from 2009!), but they alleviate a lot of the (self-imposed) pressure that comes with writing, at least for me.

2 thoughts on “The Gap

  1. Yes! I do agree, and if I may quote the great Ed Sheeran…

    Okay, I actually don’t remember the quote verbatim, but I once saw an interview with him and he talked about creativity being like an old tap – you turn the faucet and all this brown water comes out at first, but if you let it run, eventually it becomes clear! He said keep writing/painting/singing/playing/whatever and eventually the good stuff will come :)
    I think he’s a genius.

    Keep at it, sister!

  2. There’s something about practicing making perfect but I firmly believe in exhausting yourself for honest good work. There’s something that feels clean about that, regardless of whether or not the work is mediocre or even piss poor. And then parse through it all and find the golden nuggets. Unfortunately the creative process is not linear and also not the same but that’s supposed to be part of the fun of it, right?

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