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
This is one of the things I like to remind myself frequently. While working in a creative filed you suddenly realize that it is not about the finish line, but about the process of continuously learning, hustling and getting better drip by drip, day by day. The stuff you make will suck less everyday until you turn into an overnight-10-year-in-the-making genius.
And this reminds me of Jiro Dreams of Sushi – a great documentary about the greatest sushi chef in the planet. Jiro, which happens to run a low profile restaurant and has 3 michelin stars under his belt put it nicely:
Our techniques are no big secret. It’s about repeating a process, and
getting better each day.
Like anything, if you work hard you will get good over time.
P.S. If you haven’t seen Jiro Dreams of Sushi you should see it. I could talk about this movie for days but it has been the most relevant movie I’ve ever seen (yes EVER!). Some links: