Oct 19, 2021
5 mins read
All creatives, especially at the beginning, feel like crap about their work at one point or the other.
That novel is not coming along right. That painting is not what we imagined. Even after trying 50 times, the lyrics aren't feeling right.
The idea we have in our head is nowhere close to what comes out on the paper or canvas.
Your work doesn't live up to your standards. You start thinking that your work is no good, that you're no good. But that is not true.
Let famous American radio personality Ira Glass tell you why -
Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, and I really wish somebody had told this to me.
All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But it's like there is this gap. For the first couple years that you're making stuff, what you're making isn't so good. It’s not that great. It’s trying to be good, it has ambition to be good, but it’s not that good.
But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, 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. A lot of people never get past that phase. They quit.
Everybody I know who does interesting, creative work they went through years where they had really good taste and they could tell that what they were making wasn't as good as they wanted it to be. They knew it fell short. Everybody goes through that.
And if you are just starting out or if 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. 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. It is only by going through a volume of work that you're going to catch up and close that gap. And the work you're making will be as good as your ambitions.
I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It takes awhile. It’s gonna take you a while. It’s normal to take a while. You just have to fight your way through that.
Now creatives, let's dissect what Mr Glass is saying here -
You entered the game because you have good taste.
It was someone else's work that inspired you enough to try this creative life yourself.
If it wasn't for Agatha Christie, I wouldn't have been trying my hand at writing for the past six years. Her novels ignited a fire in me. Her stories made me realise that Writing is what I want to do all my life.
You, too, found someone whose work, unconsciously, gave you permission to be a creative yourself.
But there's is this gap.
A gap between how you would like your work to be like and how it actually turns out.
The first time I tried my hand at writing a mystery novel, I sucked. The story was so bad that I didn't want to look at it. I didn't even want to look at myself. I felt like a failure.
This, now I know, is a normal phase to occur, especially as a beginner.
But you also know that there's scope in this work.
And that's because of the excellent taste you have.
Instead of feeling like a failure, I now use Agatha Christie as the level I would like to reach. I know what a good novel reads like, so I know where I am going wrong. And, therefore, I can improve.
This is the time to work on your craft. Not quit.
Your work is the only way through.
It is only through deliberate practise and putting yourself out there can you hope to close that gap.
With every article, every short story I write and publish, I am filling that gaping hole of where I am and where I want to be. And, on the way, I am figuring myself and my craft out.
It is only through putting in work every day that I can hope to become someone good.
But remember that it'll take time.
There's nothing called overnight success.
You have to have patience, perseverance and consistency. You have to do your work for the sake of the work and not worry about the results. What you're doing in this phase is building up your skills and experience.
Trust yourself and the timing of life.
Last but not least, you just have to fight your way through
If you are creative, you know (or should know) you're going against the flow of general society.
Writer. Painter. Songwriter. Director. Actor. Potter. Photographer. No matter which kind of creative you are, you are doing something that general society won't understand. They might appreciate you later, but not when you're doing the work
Also, you have your own limiting beliefs that keep you from letting your creativity free. Fear of failure, self-doubt, feeling not good enough, others' opinions, behaviours that are generally expected of you - all these and more will pull you back.
If you want to be the creative person you dream of, you have to fight to make it happen. This is not going to be an easy job.
Having faith in yourself and your craft is the key to becoming that ideal creative.
And one day, who knows, your work will become the good taste that others aspire to achieve.
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